More than 42,000 potentially illegal and harmful tablets were seized by health chiefs, gardai and customs last year, it was revealed today.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said the haul was recovered after authorities joined an Interpol clampdown on internet drugs suppliers for the second year running.
The Operation Pangea II week of action in November targeted the online sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines in 24 countries.
Pat O’Mahony, IMB chief executive, said improved co-operation between the board, customs and gardai was leading to a huge increase in actions.
“When you purchase medicinal products online there is no way of knowing whether they contain what they claim,” he said.
“At best you are wasting your money but the real risk is that you could be taking something which has not enough medicine in it to treat your condition or it could contain too much medicine or other ingredients which could seriously damage your health.”
The IMB’s annual report for 2008 revealed the number of enforcement cases launched over breaches in medicines law more than doubled on the previous year.
At the end of 2008 it had 3,037 cases on its books compared to 1,397 a year earlier.
The IMB said the increase was down to improved co-operation between customs, gardai and the board as they targeted illegal internet suppliers.
Two websites, linked to the online trade and hosted by businesses in Dublin and Kerry, were shut down in 2008 as part of Operation Pangea.
That year a total of 299,053 tablets, 55,789 capsules, 24 litres of liquids and 36.5kg of creams were seized by the IMB.
The drugs were for weight loss, insomnia, stress relief, viagra drug Sildenafil Citrate, prescription level vitamins and antibiotics.