Friday 20 October 2017

Drug used by Sharapova seized by customs

Russia’s Maria Sharapova took the banned drug meldonium. Photo: Reuters
Russia’s Maria Sharapova took the banned drug meldonium. Photo: Reuters
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Batches of the same medicine at the centre of tennis star Maria Sharapova's failed drugs test were seized by Irish customs officers last year, the Irish Independent has learned.

The drug meldonium, also known as mildronate, is not licensed for use in Ireland and has been on the international banned list for use by athletes since January.

However, it has now been confirmed that a quantity of the drug was seized here last year after it was illegally ordered over the internet and imported.

The drug, which is made in Latvia, can only be prescribed here if a doctor gets special permission to give a patient an unauthorised medicine, a spokeswoman for the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the Irish medicines' drug watchdog confirmed.

"There are certain clinical situations when the use of unlicensed medicines or use of medicines outside the terms of the licence may be judged to be in the best interests of the patient ... and such decisions rest with the registered medical practitioner."

Ms Sharapova said she was taking the drug over the course of 10 years after regularly falling ill and was unaware it was banned since January. She had a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.

The drug increases blood flow which can improve the exercise capacity of athletes.

Irish Independent

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