Almost 620,000 doses of illegal medicines seized in 2018

Sedatives, abortion pills, erectile dysfunction medication and anabolic steroids among products found

Almost 620,000 doses of illegal medicines were seized last year including sedatives, erectile dysfunction medication and anabolic steroids, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said. File photograph: Jason Clarke Photography.

Almost 620,000 doses of illegal medicines were seized last year including sedatives, erectile dysfunction medication and anabolic steroids, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said. File photograph: Jason Clarke Photography.

 

Almost 620,000 doses of illegal medicines were seized last year including sedatives, abortion pills, erectile dysfunction medication and anabolic steroids, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said.

The number of seizures fell to 619,213 last year from 948,915 in 2017.

The most commonly imported illegal products were sedatives (36 per cent), erectile dysfunction medicines (18 per cent) and anabolic steroids (16 per cent).

A total of 740 abortifacients (drugs that induce a miscarriage) were detained, of which 711 contained Misoprostol and 29 contained Mifepristone.

Ten prosecution cases were initiated and a further 14 voluntary formal cautions issued during the year, according to the HPRA. The cases related to the supply of products including falsified anabolic steroids, erectile dysfunction medicines and Sibutramine (appetite suppressant previously withdrawn from global markets) containing products.

John Lynch, director of compliance at the HPRA, said the year on year decrease should not be taken as representing a significant shift in consumer behaviour.

“We remain concerned that members of the public are continuing to put their health at significant risk by buying medicines from unverified and unregulated sources,” he said. “Analysis of the figures shows that there is a continuing and worrying trend of consumers in Ireland seeking to source illegal prescription medicines.”

More than 4.1 million units of illegal prescription medicines have been seized over the last five years. Mr Lynch said exposure to such products can cause “significant harm” to a person’s health and well-being.

“We cannot stress how dangerous it is to source prescription medicines from the unregulated market,” he said. “Under the law, the supply of prescription medicines by mail order, including the internet, is prohibited.

“We also know from our investigations and prosecutions that those who seek to profit from illegal medicines have little regard for the health of the end users of the medicines they are supplying. While some websites may appear legitimate, they are too often a front for illegal activity.”

A recent survey by the HPRA showed that almost half of Irish adults (48 per cent) are unaware of the serious side effects caused by anabolic steroid use.

“We believe people are sourcing these products for purposes of performance enhancement, but the risk of side effects such as heart failure, liver and kidney damage is real and should not be ignored,” Mr Lynch added.

The HPRA said anabolic steroids remain an area of focus, with some 98,055 units detained last year, compared to 449,411 in 2017.