A couple in Maidenhead, Berkshire has been handed suspended sentence for illegal possession and supply of £1.6m of unlicensed medicines.
Following investigations initiated by the MHRA, Karina Filimonova and Andrejs Stolarovs were caught with the unlicensed medicines which included prescription-only medications. Southwark Crown Court sentenced each “to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and 150 hours unpaid work” for possessing and intending to supply medicinal products contrary to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.
“This was a sophisticated operation illegally bringing unlicensed medicines into the UK from Singapore and India, and then distributing them across the country and abroad,” said Andy Morling, MHRA Deputy Director of Criminal Enforcement. “Criminals trading in medicines illegally like this are not only breaking the law, but they also have no regard for your safety. These are powerful medicines that can lead to serious adverse health consequences if taken without appropriate medical supervision.”
In 2020, the Royal Mail Group (RMG) informed the MHRA about parcels containing unlicensed medicines discovered during their investigation into suspicious parcel activity. Following this, the MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit, in cooperation with local police, launched an investigation and apprehended the couple at their residence in Kidwells Close, Maidenhead.
The MHRA said the couple were found with a stash of over 1.3 million pills, spanning 65 different brands and covering a range of conditions like sexual dysfunction, infertility, obesity, alcohol and opioid dependence, narcolepsy/ADHD, breast cancer, and HIV. These medicines held an estimated value of £1.6 million on the underground market, it added.
After an MHRA investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) pressed charges against Filimonova and Stolarovs. They both pleaded guilty on 13 June 2023 at Southwark Crown Court.
“They were each sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and 150 hours unpaid work for possession and intent to supply medicinal products contrary to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012,” the MHRA added.
In July, the MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit (CEU) seized a quantity of suspected unlicensed medical products, including unauthorized versions of Botox, numbing agents, and dermal fillers in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Officers from the MHRA and Greater Manchester Police conducted a raid across nine addresses in Bolton, Westhoughton, and Leigh, where two women and a man were arrested.
“We work hard to prevent, detect and investigate illegal activity involving medicines and medical devices to protect the public and defeat this harmful trade,” Morling added. “Our Criminal Enforcement Unit will continue working to protect your health by disrupting this harmful trade and bringing dangerous offenders to justice.”