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Thousands of illicit medicines seized as raids carried out in Manchester

By Irish Pharmacist - 03rd Jan 2024

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Criminal Enforcement Unit seized hundreds of thousands of doses of suspected illegally traded medicines, including powerful prescription-only medicines, following coordinated raids at two residential and two business premises across North Manchester, UK.

The operation saw raids across two residential addresses in Oldham and Cheetham in the early hours of 29 November 2023 in which a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, breaches of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, and money laundering.

Officers from the MHRA and Greater Manchester Police also seized thousands of illegal medicines from two business addresses in Bury and Miles Platting, including powerful opioid painkillers and antidepressants, as well as unlicensed versions of erectile dysfunction drugs.

Andy Morling, MHRA Deputy Director of Criminal Enforcement, said: “Medicines like these are powerful and dangerous in the wrong hands, potentially leading to serious adverse health consequences. The criminals trading in these products are not only breaking the law, they also have no regard for your safety.

“It is illegal to advertise, sell, or supply medicines such as these without the appropriate authorisation. If you see these products, or any other powerful medicines, being sold on social media or elsewhere online, think. It’s unlikely to be legitimate, and could be extremely dangerous. You can help the MHRA take action to stop these criminals by reporting concerns to us through our Yellow Card scheme.”

Detective Chief Inspector Jen Kelly, of Greater Manchester Police’s Operation Vulcan, said: “The MHRA has been a dedicated partner of Operation Vulcan in helping to tackle the supply of illicit prescription medication in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester. This was a key problem that Operation Vulcan has worked hard to tackle and over the last year we have seized more than 1.5 million tablets.

“Today was therefore an opportunity to support our partners in turn and tackle the illicit supply elsewhere. We see first-hand the harmful and sadly even fatal consequences that illicit prescription medication can have. I would urge anyone with information about illicit supply to share it with your local police force so they can act on it and keep your community safe.”

The MHRA safety advice when buying medicines online is: Be careful when buying medicines online; and medicines and medical devices are not ordinary consumer goods, and their sale and supply is tightly controlled. Websites operating outside the legal supply chain may seem tempting, for example, offering a prescription medicine without a prescription. Not only are these sites breaking the law – they’re putting your health at risk.

Do not self-prescribe; self-diagnosis and self-medication can be very dangerous. If you have a concern about your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis, and if medicines are prescribed, obtain them from a legitimate source.

Visit the #FakeMeds website for tools and resources to help people purchase medication or medical devices safely online.

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