Prescription drugs worth €300,000 seized
Two arrested and four Irish websites shut down as part of international operation
John Lynch, Director of Compliance, Irish Medicine Board: The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and Revenue’s Customs Service today confirmed that they have detained over 101,182 tablets and capsules worth over €267,430 in one week in Ireland as part of Operation Pangea VII, an Interpol led week of action. Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography
Two people have been arrested and more than 100,000 tablets seized in the Irish end of a week-long international crackdown on the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines.
Four Irish-controlled websites were investigated and closed down during the operation, according to the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners.
The two agencies worked with 200 enforcement agencies across 110 countries to target criminal networks behind the sale of illegal medicines as part of Operation Pangea VII.
Co-ordinated by Interpol, the initiative resulted in 239 arrests worldwide and the closure of 10,600 websites.
The Irish agencies yesterday put on display some of the 101,182 tablets and capsules seized during the week, which have an estimated value of almost €300,000. The haul includes sedatives, painkillers, weight-loss products, medicines for erectile dysfunction and anabolic steroids. The main countries of origin are China, Pakistan and India.
Personal use Some of the drugs were bought for personal use while others were imported so they could be resold on the local market. Over the course of the operation, 85 packages of medicines were intercepted by Customs at mail hubs in Ireland.
Ten search warrants were executed, leading to the two arrests. “Our goal is to stem the flow of medicines from illegal pharmacy websites which present themselves to the general public as perfectly legitimate, but, in reality are not, and many have been shown to be controlled by criminal networks,” said John Lynch, director of compliance with the IMB.
Health risk “In attempting to buy prescription medicines from such websites, not only are the public divulging their personal and financial details, they are also placing their health in very real danger. 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 concluded.
Under Irish law, the sale of prescription-only medicines by mail order is prohibited. This includes internet supplies.
The Irish Patients Association commended the authority on their work but pointed out that operation lasted just one week. “The reality is that it is like drawing a leaking bucket of water from a fast moving dangerous river,” chief executive Stephen McMahon said. “A lot more needs to be done to stop these dangers.”