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Press release: MHRA seizes more than £25 million of medicine supplied illegally in the last five years as new anti-counterfeiting strategy launches

Press release

Date: Tuesday 1 May 2012
Time: 10:30
Contact: Press Office 020 3080 7651
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

As the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) launches its second anti-counterfeiting strategy, the UK medicines regulator reveals it has seized more than £25 million illegally supplied medicines in the last five years. This has contributed to a marked reduction in illegally supplied medical products entering the regulated UK supply chain.

The new strategy, the Falsified Medical Products Strategy 2012 – 2015, details measures that the MHRA will take to tackle counterfeit medicines and medical devices. It brings together its stakeholders and international partners to combine efforts in raising public awareness and carrying out enforcement policy.

The overall aim of the new strategy is to reduce the risks to patients and consumers in the UK from the threats posed by counterfeit medical products whilst increasing the pressure on those behind this illegal activity. It falls into three main areas centred around prevention, incident management and investigation.

Nimo Ahmed, MHRA acting Head of Enforcement said: “The UK market for medicines is immense and is estimated to be worth around £8,000 million. Combating the real and present threat posed by counterfeit medical products continues to remain a priority for the MHRA. We are committed to working closely with international partners and providing leadership in dealing with this issue to protect public health and maintaining public confidence in the way we obtain our medical products”

Since its first strategy the MHRA has achieved a number of successes in tackling counterfeit medical products.

In 2010 a co-ordinated international operation to tackle medicines being supplied illegally over the internet saw over two million doses being seized across the world, almost 500 websites taken down and 90 individuals arrested.

In 2011, in the largest such operation to date, over 13,500 illegal websites were taken down or suspended and 2.5 million doses of medicines were seized.

In March of this year a joint operation across Europe saw 300,000 doses of medicines seized.  Most recently a confiscation order to the value of £14.4 million was made against a UK individual following his conviction for selling and supplying fake and unlicensed medicines.

Notes to Editor

  1. Please see the link below to the Falsified Medical products section on the MHRA website: 
    1. Counterfeit medicines and devices
  2. 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 judgements 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.

Watch our video explaining the issues around counterfeit products

Page last modified: 11 May 2012