Gardaí search midland towns for batch of drugs that caused three deaths
Authorities fear fake Xanax tablets, purchased online, remain in circulation
Gardaí have urged anyone with any information on the illegal importation, sale or supply of prescription drugs to contact them.
Gardaí in the midlands are carrying out searches in two towns in an effort to locate a batch of drugs which is suspected of leading to the deaths of three people.
Angela Kelly (44) died at Clonamore House Hotel in Tullamore, Co Offaly, last Sunday and Amy Mannix (19) died there on Monday. Last night a 23-year-old man who was taken to Midlands Regional Hospital on Monday also died.
He had also been staying at Clonamore House, which is being used as emergency accommodation for homeless people. It is understood he was the boyfriend of Ms Mannix.
A fourth man, aged in his early 30s, who was hospitalised at the same time has now been discharged.
Gardaí believe all four had ingested fake Xanax tablets which were purchased online and distributed in the midlands.
On Friday morning gardaí launched search operations in Tullamore and in Portarlington in Co Laois. Gardaí from the two towns were supported by the Armed Support Unit, the Garda Dog Unit and the Laois/Offaly Divisional Drugs Unit.
The search teams are acting on definitive information on the location of other drugs which were purchased online. Gardaí fear the bulk of the batch is still on the streets and that more deaths may occur.
Meanwhile, the Health Products Regulation Authority (HPRA), which regulates prescription medications, has warned about the dangers of purchasing drugs from the internet.
“Prescription medicines should only be dispensed from a recognised and trusted source, such as your local pharmacy,” a spokesman said.
“Buying such medicines elsewhere, including online, represents a serious risk to your health as this is unauthorised and unregulated supply and the source or quality of these medicines cannot be verified.”
Gardaí in Cork have also issued a warning to the public about the dangers of buying prescription medicines online after seizing about 300 tablets in the county on Thursday morning.
Insp Dave Callaghan of Bandon Garda station said gardaí were concerned from a public health perspective about the risk such online purchases pose as there is no guarantee people are getting what they think when they buy drugs online.
“Tablets bought through the dark web or other illegal sources pose a real danger to the health of individuals who consume them as the exact makeup and content of the tablet is unknown,” he said.
“As we’ve seen elsewhere, this has resulted in death or caused severe health risks so we would urge anyone to think again before buying any tablets online because you just don’t know what you are buying.”
Gardaí suspect that the seized tablets are Limovan, a sleeping tablet, and Valium, a calming medication, but they are awaiting the results of analysis at the Forensic Science Laboratory before confirming what exactly they are.
They have urged any person with any information on the illegal importation, sale or supply of prescription drugs to contact their local Garda Station or the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111.
Meanwhile a report by the Health Research Board, the Ana Liffey Drug Project and University College Cork said increasing numbers of people are buying tablets such as Xanax and Valium online from “pharmacies” which do not require prescriptions.
These “pharmacies”are not regulated and analysis of the medications bought from them shows that many are far too strong or not strong enough compared to the official brands.