Crackdown on illegally imported medicines: More than 60,000 tablets seized in NI

Tablets (archive pic)
Tablets (archive pic)

Tens of thousands of illegally imported and unauthorised medicines have been seized in Northern Ireland as part of an international operation.

During Operation Pangea XI, multiple packages containing some 60,000 tablets destined for addresses throughout the Province were intercepted. They included diazepam, pregabalin and zopiclone.

The INTERPOL-led operation took place between October 9 and 16 and involved 116 countries, acting together to safeguard public health.

The operation aimed to disrupt the illicit online supply of medicines as well as raising awareness of the significant health risks associated with buying medicines from illegal websites and social media platforms.

Speaking about the operation, Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton, Chair of the OCTF Drug Sub Group said: “Operation Pangea is a really powerful example of effective collaboration at local, national and international level between the various stakeholders working to restrict the supply of counterfeit and unlawful prescription drugs whilst developing harm reduction strategies to keep people safe.

“The searches are typical of our year round activity but the misuse of prescription drugs and the deaths that result from it cannot be solved by policing alone. We’ll continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prevent the importation and supply of illicit and counterfeit drugs by proactively investigating the Organised Crime Groups who supply them but the continued partnership working with the broadest range of stakeholders in government and communities is key to preventing drug misuse and keeping people safe.”

Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer with the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group, added: “Medication sold from disreputable websites can be poor quality at best and dangerous at worst. We urge the public not to be tempted by what look like cut prices or fooled by professional looking websites offering medicines without prescription. Taking short cuts and using these medicines could expose you to a dangerous counterfeit or substandard medicine.”

“People should take prescription only medicines in consultation with their GP, pharmacist or other healthcare professionals who have access to patient health records and can take into account the risks and benefits associated with every medicine.”

INTERPOL revealed that 500 tonnes of illicit pharmaceuticals were seized world-wide during the operation.