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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019
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Thousands of 'unreliable or dangerous' erectile dysfunction pills seized in past week

Medicines worth over €430,000 were confiscated during the Interpol-led operation.

THESE ARE JUST some of the thousands of illegal tablets and capsules that were detained by Revenue officials over the last week.

Pat O'Mahony, HPRA chief executive, with some of the medicines seized as part of the week-long operation. Source: Naoise Culhane

Some 142,000 units worth over €430,000 were seized as part of an Interpol-led operation involving the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners.

Operation Pangea VII, which began on 9 June and finished on Tuesday, targeted the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines.

Seized products included 104,000 sedatives, 12,000 anabolic steroids, 8,000 erectile dysfunction pills and 2,000 weight loss tablets.

Their main countries of origin were Singapore, USA, India and the UK.

Two arrests were carried out during the week-long operation.

Eight websites, including five that were based in Ireland, were investigated. Four of the Irish sites selling illegal or counterfeit products have now either been shut down or amended online content.

‘Don’t be embarrassed’

Speaking today at a briefing on the seizures, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the medicines posed a “major patient safety concern”.

unnamed (2) Source: Naoise Culhane

An estimated 50% of products bought online are either dangerous or unreliable, he said.

What happens on some occasions is that [medicines purchased online] are counterfeit and there are no active ingredients in them. But more seriously, they can be medicines that are no longer available – that have been taken off the market – because they’re dangerous.

He said that patients should not be embarrassed to discuss weight and erectile difficulties with their doctors, who can prescribe them with safer alternatives to products sold online.

As somebody who worked as a GP, I can tell you that huge numbers of people have issue like that and they go into their doctors all the time.

From 24 June, he added, a new EU logo for legitimate websites selling over-the-counter medicines will come into effect across Europe.

Read: We need to start talking about sexual dysfunction in an open way >

Read: A study which claimed eating chocolate helps you lose weight was an elaborate hoax >

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Catherine Healy

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