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Arrests in fake medicine crackdown

Friday June 28th, 2013

Nearly 10,000 websites selling counterfeit and unlicensed medicines have been shut down last week in a global operation, it was announced yesterday.

The crackdown, called Operation Pangea, also led to 58 arrests worldwide.

In the UK more than £12 million worth of illegal medicine was seized, regulators said.

The Interpol-directed operation spanned 99 countries.

The bulk of the UK seizures involved unlicensed medicines but they also included nearly 100,000 doses of counterfeit pills, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

Nimo Ahmed, of the agency, said: "When people buy medicines from an illegal website they don't know what they're getting, where it came from or if it's safe to take.

"The dose could be too high or too low, or the ingredients could break down incorrectly in the body which makes the medicine ineffective. They could also become victims of credit card or identity fraud as well as downloading computer viruses.

"We have closed down 1,288 of these illegal websites but people need to take the time to see their GP about any problems they have with their health. People are far more likely to get better faster if they are on the correct course of safely prescribed medication."

Neal Pate, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "This is a serious patient safety issue.

"Not only is supplying prescription only medicines without a prescription illegal, it means that the user has no information about the ingredients, dosage instructions, or potential side effects, so patients would not be receiving proper healthcare advice.

"We would urge the public if they wish to buy medicines online to always check that they are dealing with a genuine pharmacy."

Tags: Pharmaceuticals | UK News | World Health

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