Medicines and medical devices valued at over £850,000, totalling more than 285,000 items, have been seized by officers from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as part of a global operation to tackle the illegal sale of medical products, with UK seizures estimated to be worth around 9% of the global total.
In the UK, 48 social media accounts unlawfully offering to supply medicines were also shut down. Officers from the MHRA Criminal Enforcement Unit searched five premises in the West Midlands and London, with 2 suspects arrested.
During the global week of action coordinated by Interpol, which ran from 23 to 30 June, this year’s ‘Operation Pangea’ saw countries across the world joining forces to seize non-compliant medical products. The operation also involved the arrests of several suspected organised criminals.
In the UK, anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction tablets, painkillers, anabolic steroids and slimming pills were among the medicines seized.
Andy Morling, Deputy Director (Criminal Enforcement) at the MHRA, said: “Criminals illegally trading in medicines and medical devices are not only breaking the law but they also have no regard for health. Unlicensed medicines and non-compliant medical devices pose serious risk to public health as both their safety and efficacy can be compromised.
“This operation shows what can be achieved when national and global efforts combine to tackle this kind of offending. The MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit will continue to work closely with our international partners and Border Force to prevent unlicensed medicines and non-compliant medical devices from entering the UK, and to bring the criminals behind this illegal trade to justice.”