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Online pharmacies raided by UK regulator

'If you sell illegal medicines, we will stop you'

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Healthcare regulators have raided a series of UK web businesses believed to be connected to the illegal offering of prescription drugs on the internet.

The raids were carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and involved police officers as well as MHRA staff. Raids were carried out in Essex, Middlesex, Kent and Lancashire.

The raids were the culmination of investigations begun in May into 51 sites suspected of offering illegal medicines. This week's raids involved residential properties and commercial premises.

The sites were alleged to be selling medications without prescription relating to the treatment of insomnia, impotency and smoking addiction, among other conditions. Regulators found unlicensed impotence drug Kamagra and 100-capsule tubs of Ephedrine in their raids.

"People can be at considerable risk if they buy medicines from illegal and unregulated websites," said Mick Deats, head of enforcement and intelligence at the MHRA. "A medicine bought in this way has no guarantee of safety, quality or effectiveness. Today's visits demonstrate our commitment to safeguard public health and act as a stark warning to those in the UK who are engaged in any way with supplying medicines illegally."

"Our message is simple, if you sell or supply medicines illegally, we will use all appropriate measures available to stop you, including prosecution and confiscation," said Deats.

The MHRA currently has 13 cases against alleged internet medicine sales operations pending prosecution and 118 live investigations with a connection to websites.

People selling medicines without prescription are guilty of breaches of the Medicines Act and the MHRA says that it will use the Proceeds of Crime Act to claw back illicit earnings from any illegal activity. Breaching the Medicines Act carries a penalty of up to two years in jail and an unlimited fine.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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