Written answers

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Department of Health

Medicinal Products Regulation

Photo of Anne RabbitteAnne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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109. To ask the Minister for Health the amount of detained medicines that are bought over the Internet; and his views on the growing danger posed by illegally purchased medicines that typically can be of dubious quality, contaminated with unsafe fillers, have the wrong ingredients, not enough active ingredient or fake packaging. [45592/19]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Between 2016 and 2018, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), with the co-operation of Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána, has detained over 1.8 million dosage units (tablets, capsules, vials, etc.) of medicines bought over the internet. These can be broken down as follows:

Year No. of Units Detained
2016 555,406
2017 507,889
2018 413,289
2019 (January – August) 363,820

Online supply of prescription medicines into or within Ireland is illegal. The HPRA is aware of many illegal websites that purport to be pharmacies and offer to supply a range of prescription medicines direct to the public. Medicines bought from these sites may be falsified. They may contain no active ingredient, too much or too little of an active ingredient, or the wrong ingredients altogether. There is no way to be certain how or where the medicine was made, the quality of the active ingredient(s) or fillers (inert ingredients) used and the medicine may not have been packaged, labelled or stored correctly and could be out of date.

The HPRA continually and strongly recommends patients do not seek to purchase prescription medicines that have not been prescribed by a registered medical practitioner and dispensed by a registered pharmacy as there can be no guarantee as to their safety, quality or efficacy, in addition to the health risks for persons seeking to self-medicate. As Minister for Health, I strongly urge patients to follow this recommendation.

The HPRA continues to work with Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána to monitor and investigate instances of illegal supply of medicines, through retail sales in Ireland and via online sources, and actively enforces against suspected breaches of the law.

For further information, consumers are urged to access the HPRA leaflet ‘Dangers of Buying Prescription Medicines Online’, which is available on its website at www.hpra.ie and to report concerns to reportacase@hpra.ie


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