Four held for selling online medicines
Four people have been arrested in Ireland as part of a major international investigation into the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines.
The Irish Medicines Board, Revenue’s Customs Service and Gardaí seized 121,026 tablets and capsules with an estimated value of about €375,000.
The week-long operation, coordinated by Interpol and involving more than 100 countries, led to 79 arrests worldwide. Some 18,000 illegal online pharmacy websites were also shut down, and 3.7 million medicines valued at €8.1 million were seized.
The seized medicines included products for weight loss and erectile dysfunction, antibiotics, hormones and steroids, anti-depressants, pain killers, cardiac and cholesterol medication, insulin, amphetamines and cancer treatments.
Customs in Ireland detained 282 packages over the course of the week. A total of 11 search warrants were issued which resulted in four arrests.
The sale of prescription-only medicines by mail order is illegal in Ireland.
Director of compliance with the Irish Medicines Board John Lynch urged consumers not to purchase medicines through an unauthorised source as there is no guarantee that they are genuine or safe.
“Some of these medicines have been shown to contain too little or too much of the active ingredient while others contain the wrong active ingredient altogether,” he said. “Criminal networks are behind many of the activities related to the online sale of counterfeit medicines so purchasers may also be exposing themselves to potential credit card fraud and identity theft when handing over their personal details via these sites.”
Mr Lynch said hundreds of Irish websites had been closed or prevented from selling illegal medicines in Ireland in recent years.