More than £30,000 worth of illegal prescription medicines have been seized in a raid on a Polish pharmacy in Ealing.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) conducted the raid, on the shop in Uxbridge Road, as part of an operation called Pangea VIII.
Operation Pangea is an international initiative to target the illegal internet trade in medicines.
getwestlondon joined the raid, on Thursday (June 18), as the officers swooped on the unsuspecting pharmacy.
The unlicensed pharmacy was caught selling prescription-only drugs over the counter in what was described as a “Polish version of Boots” by MHRA head of operations, Danny Lee Frost.
He went on to describe the premises as a “gold mine” of illegal polish pharmaceuticals being sold without prescriptions in quantities that are a “danger to public health”.
Prescription-only medicine should only be taken in consultation with a GP or other healthcare professional.
These trained professionals have access to patient health records and can take into account the risks and benefits associated with every medicine as well as providing on-going monitoring of the treatment.
The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe
The agency announced on Thursday that more than £15.7m worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices have been seized in the UK as part of the global operation.
The seizures – the biggest recorded to date in the UK - includes huge quantities of illegally supplied and potentially harmful slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets and narcolepsy tablets. Unlicensed foreign medicines and fake condoms were also found and removed.
'People are at risk'
Ealing was one of the areas the agency targeted in their raids due to intelligence gathered from an online website which was selling prescription-only Polish medicines illegal in this country.
Their intelligence led them to a premises in Uxbridge Road near Ealing Broadway.
There was a back room filled with illegal medicines made and packaged for the Polish market and no qualified pharmacist in sight.
The owner of the business denied any wrong-doing and could, if charged, face up to two years imprisonment.
Mr Frost said: “In my 20 years with the MHRA I have never seen such a well-established and illegal pharmacy of this size. It is a brazen operation of a big scale selling unregulated medicines to the local population.
"People buying these medicines are not committing a crime but they are at risk. The danger is that they are not getting the normal referral and duty of care from a doctor.
"If there is something wrong with the medicines there will be no official recall notice.
"Criminals involved in the illegal supply of medical products through the internet aren’t interested in your health - they are interested in your money and are able to get this by selling you a potentially dangerous product, or by stealing your bank details.
"To protect your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or registered pharmacy which can trade online.”
The seizures are a result of a month-long international crackdown on the illegal internet trade of medical products from 115 different countries globally.
The Operation Pangea VIII initiative, coordinated through Interpol, concluded with a week of international raids between June 9 and 16.
The operation also targeted websites that were offering falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and led to their closure or suspension by removal of their domain name or payment facility.
In the UK, MHRA enforcement officers, with assistance from local police, raided known addresses in connection with the illegal internet supply of potentially harmful medicines.
No arrests or prosecutions have yet been made in this case.