Sunday 23 October 2016

Counterfeit drugs worth €430k seized in internet stings

Minister Varadkar and officials with the seized 'medicines'
Minister Varadkar and officials with the seized 'medicines'

ILLEGAL counterfeit drugs worth €430,000 have been seized in Ireland as part of a massive international crackdown on the trade.

More than 140,000 tablets, including 104,000 sedatives and 8,000 erectile dysfunction pills, were found here as part of Interpol’s ‘Operation Pangea’.

The success of the seven-day operation that finished on Wednesday was revealed by the gardai, the Revenue Customs Service and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

Other drugs seized included painkillers, anabolic steroids, mood stabilisers, teeth whiteners, insulin, and medication to reduce cholesterol.

Mail order of prescription tablets is prohibited in Ireland, while the selling of prescription drugs to Irish customers from online pharmacies outside of the country is also illegal.

The drugs seized were on display at HPRA headquarters in the city centre yesterday, and Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he hopes it’s an eye opener for the public, warning that consumers are taking a big health risk by using these unreliable drugs.

“50pc of the medicine sold by unregulated online retailers are estimated to be unreliable and potentially harmful,” he said.

“I hope that when the public see the photographs of these seized products, they will pause and think about what they are buying online and who they are buying from.

“Often the medicine doesn’t contain the active ingredient or has the wrong dose. Sometimes the substances used to bulk up the medicines are harmful,” he added.

The investigation involving 230 law enforcement agencies across 115 different countries targeted websites selling the drugs.


Eight online portals were found to be selling the tablets, capsules and liquids to customers here.

Five websites based in this jurisdiction were closed as part of the operation.

Some 496 mail order packages were seized by customs officials from postal services.

The most prominent countries to feature in the investigation were the UK, India, Singapore and the USA.

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