PRODUCTS to treat weight loss and male impotence are high among the counterfeit or illegal medicines which people are importing.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said 758,276 dosages of fake or illegal medicines were confiscated last year by customs’ officers after they were purchased online or via mail order.
Of these, 153,042 units detained related to weight loss products, with 52,089 units supposed to treat male impotence.
Another 246,951 units detained were sedative products while 16,848 units contained anabolic steroids, the watchdog’s annual report revealed.
Chief executive Pat O’ Mahony said: “As with previous years, the IMB is concerned with the consistent levels of counterfeit and illegal medicines being detained year on year and is warning consumers of the dangers of purchasing medicines from unauthorised sources.
“The IMB strongly recommends that members of the public never purchase prescription medicines online as there are no guarantees as to the safety, quality or effectiveness of these products.
“Medicines purchased on the internet can pose serious health risks to those who use them. The supply of prescription only medicines via the internet is illegal and no online pharmacy is authorised to operate in or into Ireland.”
The report said a total of 3,911 enforcement investigations involving breaches of medicinal product legislation were initiated.
This figure includes the detention of prescription medicines being imported into Ireland via mail order for personal or commercial use.
Separately, the IMB last year gave the go head for 77 new clinical trials of medicines to treat patients, a 13pc increase over the previous year.
“As in previous years, the majority of clinical trials were authorised for the treatment of cancer (38pc) and haematology indications (21pc),” the report added.
It received 2,757 (2,784 in 2011) suspected individual adverse reactions reports to human medicines and another 244 of suspected complications by animals, a 7pc rise. During 2012, 741 quality defects were reported to, or identified by, the IMB.
Two national recommendations were introduced that concerned children’s medicines. These were new dosage instructions for liquid paracetamol medicines for paediatric use and advice that echinacea should not be given to children under 12 years due to a lack of supporting scientific data.