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UK leads raid on counterfeit medicines sold on the web

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yesterday led an international operation in conjunction with Interpol

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yesterday led an international operation in conjunction with Interpol and regulatory authorities in eight other countries to tackle the illegal sales of medicines over the internet.

Officers from the MHRA, accompanied by police, raided 12 addresses in the UK and seized over a thousand packs of unlicensed medicines along with several computers and documents. These raids related to seven internet sites believed to be selling unlicensed medicines claiming to treat conditions such as diabetes, hair loss, impotency and obesity. The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been contacted by the MHRA and asked to close the sites.

"People can be at considerable risk if they buy medicines from illegal websites. A medicine bought in this way has no guarantee that it is safe or that it is effective and can in fact be harmful," said Danny Lee-Frost, head of operations at the MHRA.

"Our action in the UK should serve as a stark warning to those who are engaged in any way with supplying medicines illegally. Our messages are simple – do not buy prescription-only medicines over the internet without a prescription and if you are illegally selling or supplying medicines, we will use all appropriate measures available to stop you, including prosecution and confiscation," he continued.

The operation, known as Pangea, was co-ordinated by the Permanent Forum on International Crime, Interpol and the World Health Organisation's International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce. As well as in the UK, raids took place in Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the US.

13th November 2008

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