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'You don't know what's in them': Warning against buying medicines on the internet as over 350,000 pills seized

There has been a steady decline in the number of medicines seized in the last three years.

Image: Shutterstock/nokwalai

OVER 350,000 UNITS of prescription medicines bought online have been seized by Ireland’s medicine watchdog so far this year.

From January to August, a total of 363,820 tablets, capsules, and vials of medicines purchased over the internet have been discovered.

Between 2016 and 2018, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), with the co-operation of Revenue’s Customs Service and the gardaí has detained over 1.8 million dosage units of medicines bought online.

There has been a steady decline in the number of medicines seized in the last three years.

In 2016, 555,406 units were seized. This fell to 507,889 in 2017. In 2018, 413,289 were found by authorities.

The medicines found include abortion pills and erectile dysfunction medication.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the online supply of prescription medicines into or within Ireland is illegal.

“The HPRA is aware of many illegal websites that purport to be pharmacies and offer to supply a range of prescription medicines direct to the public. Medicines bought from these sites may be falsified. They may contain no active ingredient, too much or too little of an active ingredient, or the wrong ingredients altogether.

“There is no way to be certain how or where the medicine was made, the quality of the active ingredients or fillers used and the medicine may not have been packaged, labelled or stored correctly and could be out of date,” he warned.

The HPRA strongly recommends patients do not seek to purchase prescription medicines that have not been prescribed by a registered medical practitioner and dispensed by a registered pharmacy as there can be no guarantee as to their safety, he said.

In addition, he said self-medicating poses significant health risks. Harris added:

As Minister for Health, I strongly urge patients to follow this recommendation.

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