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Over 700,000 illegal medicines seized in Northern Ireland

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The illegal and unlicensed medicines worth approximately £785,000 were seized as part of Operation Pangea XVI 

The authority seized thousands of counterfeit and illicit prescription medicines destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland.

A total of 712,000 illegal tablets and medicines with a street value of approximately £785,000 were intercepted, and 12 people were arrested, as reported by NewryTimes.

The medicines seized during Operation Pangea XVI include Zopiclone, Pregabalin, alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam, Botox and weight-loss products.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) launched Operation Pangea 15 years ago to combat “illegal internet trade in medical” products.

Last month, the MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit (CEU) revealed that it had seized more than two million “illegally traded medicines” this year, with a total value of £5 million.

Operation Pangea XVI is being jointly executed by law enforcement agencies and government departments.

Besides checking the illicit online supply of medicines, the operation also aims to inform the public about the significant health risks associated with buying medicines from illegal websites.

Richard Pengelly CB, Permanent Secretary, Department of Justice said that the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) drugs sub-group members have worked together to stop illicit medicines from reaching addresses in Northern Ireland.

“I very much welcome the outcome of this year’s Operation Pangea XVI and fully support all the partners in their efforts to tackle crime, to seize goods and criminal assets and protect public health,” he told NewryTimes.  

Peter May, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, commented that their participation in Operation Pangea is an important part of their continuing efforts to “reduce the harm that can be caused by illicit drugs and unregulated or counterfeit medicines.”

Noting that illegal suppliers do not follow quality control or legal standards, he urged the public “not to be tempted by what look like cut prices or professional looking websites offering medicines without a prescription.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill, who heads the Police Service’s Organised Crime Branch, hailed the joint efforts of the Organised Crime Task Force for this huge seizure.

However, he pointed out that the figures also indicate “a worrying sign of the reality – and that’s the demand for and misuse of prescription drugs.”

Darren Brabon, Assistant Director of Border Force, added that the seizure of this substantial number of unlicensed medicines through “this fine example of joint working” ensures that these illicit medicines “won’t reach our streets and our communities remain protected.”

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