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Steroids and erectile dysfunction pills: One million doses of illegal medication seized last year

The HPRA has expressed concern about the abuse of anabolic steroids, which have side-effects including liver damage and blood clots.

THE COUNTRY’S HEALTH watchdog has revealed that close to one million units of illegal medicine were detained last year.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) today expressed concern at what it described as a “significant increase” in the number of illegal prescription medicines that were seized in 2017.

In total, some 948,915 dosage units (tablets, capsules, vials etc) of falsified or other illegal medicines last year were detained by the authority’s enforcement unit. This represents an increase of 40% on the previous year.

These products were seized through ongoing surveillance and targeted intelligence based operations and they included anabolic steroids (47%), sedatives (23%) and erectile dysfunction medicines (13%).

The supply of these products into and within Ireland is illegal and the HPRA said consumers can have no guarantee about the safety or quality of prescription medicines they are seeking to buy outside the regulated pharmacy setting.

“It is extremely concerning to see this year on year increase in detentions which indicates that people are continuing to put their health in the hands of individuals who operate unauthorised supply routes,” commented HPRA director of compliance John Lynch.

“We know from our investigations and prosecutions that those who seek to profit from illegal medicines have little regard for the health of the end users of the medicines they are supplying. It is of continuing concern that members of the public would use potent prescription medicines without medical supervision.

“We also know that there is absolutely no guarantee that these products contain the type or quantity of active ingredient that’s stated on the label. In some cases, they can contain different substances altogether which can have serious consequences for the health of those who use them.”

He said the authority is particularly concerned at the rate of increase in detentions of anabolic steroids, which “indicates a demand among some people for these highly potent prescription medicines”.

The abuse and misuse of anabolic steroids can have serious consequences for the long-term health of the individuals who take them. They have been linked to a range of significant side-effects including liver damage, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. For men, the risks also include reduced sperm count and infertility. We would urge anyone using illegally sourced anabolic steroids to stop doing so and to seek advice from their healthcare professional if they have any concerns about their health.”

The HPRA brought six prosecution cases last year, including anabolic steroids and erectile dysfunction products, with a further six voluntary formal cautions issued during the year.

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