Main Menu

Websites closed in battle against illegal trade in medicines

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has taken action to close down more than 1,600 websites illegally advertising and selling medicines last year. Many of the medicines offered were falsified, counterfeit or unlicensed.

Enforcement officers also seized medicines with a value in excess of £3 million. These included quantities of erectile dysfunction medicines, slimming products, as well as powerful and often misused drugs like sleeping pills and antidepressants. The majority of packages seized originated in India and China. Additionally, within the last year nearly 19,000 online videos were removed for illegally advertising medicines as part of MHRA’s continuing collaboration with social media and auction sites such as YouTube, Amazon and eBay to identify and take action against illegal operators. MHRA also continues to work with internet domain registries, credit card companies and Interpol to take down websites and close their accounts. MHRA’s Head of Enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey said:

The action we have taken to close down websites and seize medicines demonstrates our total commitment to tacking this dangerous and illegal trade and protect patients. Criminals involved in the supply of medicines have no interest in your health; it is simply your money they want. Buying medicines online is a risk, may websites operate outside the legal requirements and you have no idea what you are getting and how it will affect you. You are gambling with your health

If you are ill and need treatment, a visit to your GP is the best course of action. We recommend prescription and pharmacy medicines are obtained from a legitimate high street or online pharmacy.

MHRA is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe. All our work is underpinned by robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks. MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). The MHRA is an executive agency of the Department of Health.