18,000 websites selling counterfeit drugs are shut down

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), have reported that more than 18,000 websites selling illegal medicines, have been shut down during a global crackdown on illegal internet trade in pharmaceuticals. Domain names for the websites have been taken down or the payment facilities have been removed.

In the UK, 384 domain names have been suspended and a further 120 are being shut down. During the worldwide crackdown, conducted by Interpol across 100 countries, more than £6.5 million worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines were seized. The operation, which ran from September 25 to October 2, resulted in 79 people being arrested including two in the UK. More than £3.8 million of unlicensed medicines have been seized by the MHRA and the Border Force.

MHRA Acting Head of Enforcement Nimo Ahmed said, “This week we have recovered a range of medicines being supplied without prescriptions and stored in unacceptable conditions, by people who are not qualified to dispense medicines. When you buy medicines from an unregulated source, you don’t know what you’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. Illegal suppliers do not adhere to quality control or standards that are required in the licensed trade. If people could see the filthy conditions some of these medicines are being made, stored and transported in, they certainly wouldn’t touch them.”

Neal Patel, spokesman for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said, “It is hugely worrying that prescription medicines are available from illicit websites. 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.”

This is the fifth year of a coordinated action against websites selling illegal and sometimes fake medicines. Most of the haul is Viagra and assorted versions of it; one raid had turned up 13,000 packets, labelled as a Chinese herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction. It claims to have none of the side effects of synthetic western medicines.

But when they test it on the spot, they find it contains the same active ingredient as Viagra (sildenafil). If you have a heart condition that might be extremely dangerous, and you might have turned to a herbal remedy precisely because you have a heart condition, that means your GP wouldn’t prescribe Viagra.

To conclude Neal Patel said, “We would urge the public if they wish to buy medicines online, to always check that they are dealing with a genuine pharmacy.” This is a problem we at Medical Specialists have repeatedly reported on and campaigned against. Unfortunately these illegal online pharmacies, who have no regard for the public’s safety, have given online pharmacies somewhat of a bad name.

However here at Medical Specialists we are based in the UK, we only supply genuine branded medication such as (Pfizer) Viagra, we only dispense medication after a patient has undergone a consultation with one of our fully registered GP’s, who will make sure the medication is both right and safe for you. In addition to that we are fully registered with the National Pharmacy Association and the General Pharmaceutical Council.

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