Diazepam, also known as Valium, is commonly used for treating symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. (Image Courtesy: iStock)

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Tuesday issued an organised crime update and it indicates that trading of Diazepam from the legal supply chain to the criminal market is now down by 73 percent.

Recent figures into bulk orders of diverted medicines also record a drop in the trading of Nitrazepam by 30 percent, top strength Temazepam by 18 percent and Zolpidem by 18 percent.

“Selling medicines outside of the supply chain is a serious criminal offence and the latest figures and the reduction is in diversion shows our determination to protect public health,” Alastair Jeffrey, MHRA Head of Enforcement, said.

As of February 2019, 32 investigations have been initiated and 86 suspects have been either arrested or interviewed under caution. 13 wholesale dealers have had their licenses discontinued or terminated and the General Pharmaceutical Council have suspended 8 pharmacists.

“The expansion of our operation shows we will continue to track down and prosecute those recklessly endangering public safety by illegally selling prescription medicines,” Jeffrey added.

MHRA launched a key investigation into the diversion of medicines from the legal supply chain in 2016, estimated to be worth up to £200 million.

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