120,000 fake tablets seized
on 05/10/2012 00:00:00
The Irish Medicines Board, in a week-long operation involving customs and gardaí, seized 121,000 tablets, worth an estimated €375,000 on the street.
Gardaí conducted 11 searches and arrested four suspected suppliers. About 282 packages were intercepted by customs.
The seizures were part of Operation Pangea, an international effort that Interpol has run for five years.
Globally, over €8m worth of suspect products were seized in 100 countries and more than 18,000 online pharmacy websites were shut down. Four websites in Ireland were brought into compliance with the removal of certain advertisements. Two others have had their registrations withdrawn.
The number of tablets seized in Ireland this time around is more than double that seized in the 2011 operation (51,621 tablets).
John Lynch, director of compliance at the IMB, said Operation Pangea combined regulators and enforcement agencies.
"Counterfeit and illegal medicines pose a serious and potentially fatal threat to public health," he said.
"In addition to this international effort, this is an area of an ongoing focus for the IMB's enforcement team all year round."
He said their efforts had resulted in hundreds of websites being either closed or prevented from selling illegal medicines into Ireland.
"The IMB strongly advises consumers not to purchase medicines through any unauthorised sources as there can be no guarantee that they are genuine or safe. 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.
"As a result, there is a very real danger that these medicines will actually damage the health of those who use them. Furthermore, criminal networks are behind many of the activities related to the online sale of counterfeit medicines so purchasers may also be exposing themselves to potential credit card fraud and identity theft when handing over their personal details via these sites."
The 3.7m items of illegal and counterfeit medic-ines confiscated globally include weight loss tablets, erectile dysfunction tablets and capsules, antibiotics, hormones and steroid products, anti-depressants, pain killers, cardiac medication, medication to lower cholesterol, stimulants/amphetamines, insulin, and medication to treat cancer.