Online drug sales put lives in danger

The Irish Medicines Board has warned that people are putting their lives in danger by taking illegal and fake medicines after it emerged there had been a 60% rise in seizures of sedatives last year.

Online drug sales put lives in danger

In all, more than 750,000 doses, including weight loss and erectile dysfunction medication, were intercepted by authorities during 2012. While the total number of doses was slightly down on 2011, from 762,641 to 758,276, there was a massive increase in the number of sedatives, such as diazepam, which were intercepted, up from 153,483 to 246,951 units.

Other fake medicines seized included 52,089 doses of erectile dysfunction medication and 153,042 for weight loss. The bulk of the medicines were imported from China or India.

“The IMB strongly recommends that members of the public never purchase prescription medicines online as there are no guarantees as to the safety, quality or effectiveness of these products,” said chief executive Pat O’Mahony, as the IMB published its report.

“Medicines purchased on the internet can pose serious health risks to those who use them. The supply of prescription-only medicines via the internet is illegal and no online pharmacy is authorised to operate in or into Ireland.”

Mr O’Mahony said IMB was concerned at the “consistent” levels of drugs being detained each year. While this report is for 2012, it emerged that, in one week in June this year, a joint Garda, Customs and Interpol operation seized more than 192,000 fake medications at Irish borders with an estimated overall price of €612,000.

“The supply of prescription only medicines via the internet is illegal and no online pharmacy is authorised to operate in or into Ireland,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“As part of our ongoing enforcement activities, in conjunction with the Revenue Customs Service and gardaí, we detained 725,352 tablets/capsules, 24,704 packs of liquids, 5,445 packs of creams, and 2,775 dosage units of powders deemed to be unauthorised medicinal products.”

IMB initiated or was involved in 11 prosecutions and court proceedings during 2012, the most high-profile of which saw the owner of a chain of headshops, James Bellamy, sentenced to three years in prison, with the final year suspended, for illegally importing Viagra-like products. Bellamy told gardaí the drugs were Chinese Viagra made from seal penises.

Elsewhere, IMB revealed that it identified 59 potentially life-threatening defects in medical products in circulation here last year.

During 2012, 741 quality defects were reported to, or identified by, the IMB. Of those, human medicines accounted for 703 defects and 38 related to veterinary medicines. Of the defects, 74% were determined to affect Ireland.

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