A crackdown on fake medicines and medical devices by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has netted a haul of more than 1 million doses worth in excess of £2 million.
The seizures were part of Interpol’s globally coordinated Operation Pangea initiative involving 116 countries.
Between 9-17 October the MHRA and UK partners found falsified and unlicensed medicines and medical devices in the UK including diazepam, modafinil and dermal fillers.
Using intelligence, MHRA enforcement officers raided a semi-detached property and a small lock-up unit in connection with the illegal supply online of potentially harmful medicines. This led to one arrest.
Raids on the properties in the north of England involved local police and forms part of an international response coordinated through Interpol to the growing illegal trading in online medicines and medical devices. Worldwide, Operation Pangea led to 859 arrests and yielded items worth in the region of £10.9 million.
As well as the property raids, the team also targeted airports and mail delivery centres. During the searches, officers found numerous packages containing illegal consignments of medicines and medical devices including many hidden within other innocent items such as video games and clothing.
The team also targeted websites on the open and dark web that offer falsified and unlicensed medical products. Our action has led to 123 websites being shut down and the removal of 535 online adverts.
MHRA Head of Enforcement Alastair Jeffrey, said:
“Criminals who sell medicines over the internet have absolutely no regard for your health and taking medicine which is ether falsified or unlicensed puts you at risk of serious harm.
“Our intelligence-led enforcement operations have seized millions of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices in the UK. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will continue to take action against known criminals – working with our international partners to stop illegal medicines from entering the UK.
“To protect your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or registered pharmacy which can trade online with a distance selling logo.”
The MHRA has also issued the following safety advice when buying medicines:
Be careful when buying medicines online
Be careful buying medicines online – criminals are known to exploit vulnerable people by supplying medicines through unregulated websites and stealing their credit card details.
Do not self-prescribe
Self-diagnosis and self-medication can be very dangerous. If you have a concern about your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and if medicines are prescribed, buy them from a legitimate source.
If you have any knowledge of criminal activity relating to the medicines offences then you should report this to us to our case referrals email address: CaseReferrals@mhra.gov.uk.
If you wish to report a website, you can do so on our page
You may also provide information anonymously through 0800 555111 or Crimestoppers
Separately, we recently worked with law enforcement agencies in India to prevent unlicensed medicines entering the UK.