DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY

Thursday 11 June 2015

A 45 year old Ballymena man was today convicted at Ballymena Magistrates Court for illegally importing a large quantity of unlicensed erectile dysfunction medicines.

Robert Clarke, from Brigadie Crescent, Ballymena, was fined £500 plus court costs, having pleaded guilty to unlawfully importing the unlicensed prescription drugs from Hong Kong.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard that UK Border Force had intercepted the illegal tablets destined for Clarke’s Ballymena address in November 2013.

During a follow up investigation carried out by the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group, it was established that Clarke had sourced the illegal medicines via the internet and had intended to sell them on online auction websites.

DHSSPS Medicines Regulatory Group Senior Enforcement Officer, Mr Peter Moore, said: “It is vital that we continue to get the message across that the use of any medicines sourced in this way, no matter what they are, is a real risk. Our message is simple – don’t be tempted to bypass the regulated health system in Northern Ireland. I would urge the public to be on the alert to ensure that they do not put their health at risk or fund this type of crime by purchasing medication from unregistered or unregulated internet sites or any other illicit source.

“When you buy a medicine from an unregistered website or unregulated source, you will never know the conditions that product has been made in. On top of that, you very well may be receiving a product that is fake or reacts adversely with any other medication you take.”

Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, added: “The Department has made it very clear that it will continue to be vigilant and proactive in the regulation of medicines in Northern Ireland. My advice to the public is that they should only take prescription only medicines after an appropriate consultation with their GP. Only healthcare professionals can take into account risks and benefits associated with every medicine.”

Notes to editors:

1. Medicines regulatory importation offence:
Regulation 17(1) of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012: A person may not except in accordance with a manufacturer’s licence, import from a state other than an EEA State, any medicinal product, contrary to Regulation 34(1) of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

A person guilty of an offence is liable:
(a) On summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or
(b) On conviction on indictment to a fine, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to both.

2. To report any suspicious activity in relation to any unauthorised or counterfeit medicines in Northern Ireland, please contact Mr Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, DHSSPS Medicines Regulatory Group, on: 028 9052 2094 or by email: peter.moore@dhsspsni.gov.uk

3. Media enquiries about this press release should be directed to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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