Mums earned €12k from selling banned slimming drug that could cause strokes
TWO mothers imported thousands of slimming tablets that had been banned due to health fears and sold them over the internet.
Sharon Edwards (33) and Tara McEvoy (40), who have addresses at Donomore Avenue, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking medicinal products regulations.
The women, both mothers of two, will be sentenced in March.
Judge John O'Neill was told that the accused imported what they believed were "100pc herbal" remedies called Lida and Botanical Soft Gel capsules, which had also been bought on the internet.
But the drugs contained a controversial substance called Sibutramine, which has been withdrawn from markets across the world due to health risk fears.
Brenda Kirby, an enforcement officer with the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy that the investigation began in August 2010 when adverts for certain products were placed on the Gumtree website.
On March 9, 2011, customs officers at the An Post mail centre in Portlaoise detained a parcel that had come from China and was addressed to Tara McEvoy.
The parcel contained 1,980 Botanical Soft Gel capsules.
Ms Kirby visited McEvoy's home in Tallaght and the accused told the officer that she also had 360 Lida slimming capsules.
McEvoy admitted they had been selling the products, which they believed were "100pc herbal".
At first they sold to friends and later to others via the Gumtree, Donedeal and Rollercoaster websites. The court was told that the two women had been using the products themselves and were happy with the results.
They then began buying the tablets in bulk online to sell to others. And between them the accused earned about €12,000, with much of the money used to buy more stock; one defence lawyer described the enterprise as a "kitchen table affair".
The labels on the capsule containers did not mention that the products contained Sibutramine, the judge was also told.
Ms Kirby said Sibutramine has been withdrawn from markets in the US and EU.
Judge O'Neill heard that this was because Sibutramine's "risks outweighed the benefits" and could result in a range of harmful side-effects, including strokes, flu-like symptoms and cardiovascular problems.
Lawyers for the two women said their clients did not know that the products they were selling contained the potentially dangerous ingredient and that they had co-operated with the IMB.
They also asked the judge to note that it was not a sophisticated operation and the pair had used their own phone numbers and email addresses in their online ads.
They had also given the IMB details of their customers.
Judge O'Neill noted that both accused did not have prior criminal convictions, were apologetic and embarrassed.
They also feared that a criminal convictions for the offence could negatively impact upon voluntary work they did and which required garda clearance, the judge was told.
The charges, on conviction, can result in maximum fines of €2,000 as well as sentences of up to 12 months' imprisonment.
Judge O'Neill noted the harmful effects of the medication but said he was satisfied that neither woman was a criminal but that they "had got involved in a silly enterprise". He also noted that they were going to contribute €2,000 to cover the IMB's legal costs.
He adjourned sentencing until March when a probation report will be available to the court.