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Thursday 5 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# hpra
Illegal medicines: 740 abortion pills were seized in Ireland last year
Of the 619,213 dosage units seized, 36% were sedatives, 18% were erectile dysfunction medicines, and 16% were anabolic steroids.

THERE WAS A significant drop in the number of illegal medicines seized by Ireland’s medicine watchdog last year compared to the year previously.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said today that last year it seized 619,213 dosage units (including tablets, capsules and vials) of falsified and other illegal medicines in 2018, compared to 948,915 in 2017. 

Among the tablets seized were 740 abortion pills (711 contained misoprostol and 29 contained mifepristone).

This compared with 487 abortion pills in 2017, of which 449 contained misoprostol and 38 contained mifepristone.

A combination of those two substances can induce a miscarriage: not much can be inferred from the increase in seizures, as the number of seizures has fluctuated for the past 10 years.

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This could be due to more illegal medicines evading authorities some years, and more being caught the next year (you can see more detail on this in this previous report by

The HPRA has reiterating its warning to the public of the dangers of sourcing prescription medicines online or from other illicit sources.

Other medicines seized during 2018 included sedatives (36%), erectile dysfunction medicines (18%) and anabolic steroids (16%).

The HPRA confirms that the supply of these products into and within Ireland was illegal and stresses that, while falsified medicines can be presented as legitimate, there are no guarantees around the safety, quality or effectiveness of prescription medicines bought outside of the regulated pharmacy setting or purchased via the internet.

Commenting on the enforcement figures for 2018, John Lynch, Director of Compliance at the HPRA, cautioned against the suggestion that the year on year decrease represented a significant shift in consumer behaviour.

“Analysis of the figures shows that there is a continuing and worrying trend of consumers in Ireland seeking to source illegal prescription medicines… over the past five year period more than 4.1 million units of illegal prescription medicines have been detained by the HPRA.

Every single one of these tablets, capsules and vials intercepted is important and is one less illegal medicine that could cause harm.
We cannot stress how dangerous it is to source prescription medicines from the unregulated market.

 The HPRA works in partnership with Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána at a national level and with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat the illegal manufacture, importation and distribution of medicines, medical devices, and cosmetics.

To inform members of the public about the dangers associated with buying prescription medicines online, the HPRA has published this advice leaflet.

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