Illegal medicine seizures rise 19%

UNAUTHORISED medicines continue to pose a serious danger to human health as over 3,700 breaches of medicinal product legislation were detected last year.

The Irish Medicines Board initiated 3,729 enforcement cases in relation to human medicines during 2009 – the majority of which related to the importation of prescription-only medicine via mail order.

The total amount of unauthorised medicines seized last year represents a 19% rise on 2008 figures.

Almost half a million tablets and capsules were seized by IMB staff in conjunction with Revenue’s Customs officers as well as 1,650 packs of liquids, 449 packs of creams and 3,582 packs of assorted unauthorised products.

Among the products seized were some containing active substances such as Diazepam, Tadalafil (used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction) and testosterone and weight-loss products.

The majority of unauthorised products supplied in Ireland originated in India.

The IMB is the official body for regulating all medicines (human and veterinary), medical devices and other healthcare products in the Republic.

IMB chief executive Pat O’Mahony said staff had identified over 1,000 websites offering to supply medicinal products into Ireland illegally.

“All were reported to the appropriate authority LegitScript, which is a US organisation that facilitates the closing of rogue internet pharmacies,” he said

Mr O’Mahony warned the public against the dangers of buying medicines online as there are no guarantees to the safety, quality, effectiveness and authenticity of such products.

“In fact, medicines purchased on the internet can pose serious health risks to those who use them,” he said.

“The supply of prescription-only medicines via the internet is illegal and no online pharmacy is authorised to operate in Ireland.”

The IMB also reported over 900 adverse reactions to the swine flu vaccination last year.

Mr O’Mahony said the IMB’s workload increased across all areas last year with adverse reaction reports up 19.5% to 3,276. Some 1,925 new medicine applications were also licensed – up 52% on 2008 figures.

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