A West London trio were sentenced after investigators seized potentially dangerous prescription-only medicines worth in excess of £315,000 from them.
Jagdiep Dhonsi, Amrin Mirza and Shirina Ali will have to serve jail terms of 38 months, 18 months and nine months respectively as Southwark Crown court found them guilty of conspiring to supply unauthorised medicines.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) seized more than 300,000 tablets, including diazepam, zolpidem and zopiclone which are also controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, together with other powerful prescription-only medicines.
The agency said the tablets seized might be only a fraction of the overall illegal operation.
The medicines the group were supplying can have serious side effects, the agency added. Finasteride, which is used to treat hair loss, can lead to foetal abnormalities and sibutramine, which is used as an appetite suppressant was banned in 2010 because of the health risks associated with its use which include cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
“Medicines purchased outside the regulated supply chain cannot be guaranteed to meet standards of quality, safety and effectiveness and can present a real risk to public health. Some may contain dangerous ingredients which can have devastating consequences for patients who use them,” said Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA.