£30 million worth of illegal medicines seized in the UK in 2023

Published 01st Feb 2024 by PB Admin

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has announced that, working with law enforcement partners, it has seized more than 15.5 million doses of illegally traded medicines, with a street value of more than £30 million, during 2023.

This includes more than two million doses seized during Operation Pangea, the international initiative of global enforcement partners that targets the illegal internet trade in medical products.

Last year’s seizures included a small number of aesthetic products such as botulinum toxin and semaglutide 'fat-loss' products, along with unlicensed lifestyle products such as erectile dysfunction and hair loss medications, as well as prescription-only anti-anxiety medicines, opioids and sleeping pills.

Working with partners, the MHRA also disrupted more than 12,000 websites illegally selling medical products to the public and shut down almost 3,000 social media profiles during the year.

The MHRA works with many online marketplaces, social media platforms and technology providers, as well as a wide range of law enforcement agencies at home and abroad to investigate and remove potentially harmful medical products that are offered illegally to the public.

Support and advice provided by the MHRA to online marketplaces resulted in the successful removal of more than half a million unregulated prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and medical devices before they could even be offered for sale to the public. 

“Public safety is our number one priority," says Andy Morling, MHRA deputy director. "Our Criminal Enforcement Unit works hard to prevent, detect and investigate illegal activity involving medicines and medical devices, to protect people and defeat this harmful trade.

“This year, working with partners across public and private sectors, our efforts have led to more medicines seizures than ever, custodial sentences for offenders, the removal of criminal profits and considerable success in disrupting the trade online. 

“We would urge everyone to think very carefully before buying medicines they see online and to take the necessary steps to assure themselves the seller is legitimate. Buying powerful medicines from illegitimate sellers poses a real and immediate danger to your health, as you have no idea what they might actually contain.”

PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 01st Feb 2024

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