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Press release: Two men sentenced for involvement in counterfeit medicine plot

Press release

Date: 6 July 2011
Time: 12:30
Contact: Press Office 020 3080 7651
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

Two men were sentenced yesterday (5 July 2011) at Bristol Crown Court for their role in an international counterfeit medicines operation uncovered by the MHRA.

Graham Dawson, the mastermind behind the scam, received a 44-week sentence, suspended for two years, a two-year supervision order, 180 hours of unpaid work, a curfew from 8pm to 7am and will be required to wear an electronic tag for six months.

Colin Proctor was sentenced to a two-year supervision order and 120 hours of unpaid work.

Dawson pleaded guilty on 6 June 2011 to a single count of conspiracy to supply counterfeit medicines.

Proctor pleaded guilty on 3 December 2010 to 10 offences including possession of medicinal products intended to be placed on the market without marketing authorisation, supplying counterfeit medicines in breach of the Trade Marks Act 1994 (external link) and possessing counterfeit medicines with intent to sell.

The men were charged after the MHRA launched an investigation, known as Operation Lola, which saw two private addresses in Bristol searched with the assistance of local police.

Five different types of counterfeit medicines were seized with records revealing the drugs had been sent from China, as the defendants had arranged for packages of illegal medicines to be delivered from wholesalers abroad.

MHRA Head of Enforcement, Mick Deats, said: “The MHRA will not hesitate to take action against those who undermine public health.

“We believe that these medicines would eventually have been sold online.

“The danger of purchasing medicines online is that you just don’t know what you are taking. The dosages could be either too high or too low.

“The medicines we seized were being dispensed from a private address in Bristol. Many of the drugs did not contain the correct active ingredient.

“Those involved in these types of dealings do not care about your health. They are only in it for one reason and that is to make money.”

Notes to Editor

1. Under the Medicines Act 1968 (external link) the penalty on indictment is a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Conspiracy to supply counterfeit medicines is contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 (external link).

2. The counterfeit drugs found at Proctor’s house included:

  • Cialis (used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction)
  • Viagra
  • Xanax (used in the treatment of anxiety) 
  • Levitra (used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction)
  • Stilnox (used in the treatment of sleeping disorders)

3. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe. No product is risk free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgments to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone – the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry – to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.

Page last modified: 06 July 2011