Pharmacists extremely alarmed at upsurge in illegal medications

  • Medications can be both fake and dangerous
  • Steroids account for almost half of seizures
  • Public encouraged to seek advice before taking medicines                                                                                                           

IPU National Conference Saturday 28 April 2018: Pharmacists are growing increasingly concerned at the rise in the levels of counterfeit or illegal medications being seized in Ireland. Last year, according to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) almost a million medical doses were seized in Ireland, representing a 40% increase.

Speaking at the Annual Conference of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Executive Committee member Caitriona O’ Riordan said that people who order medicines online or through other non-official channels are “ignoring decades of healthcare practice that has been established in the best interest of best patients. Medications should only ever be provided by qualified healthcare professionals. It is not appropriate and not safe for people to take matters into their own hands.”

“When you get a medicine from your community pharmacy you know this product has been through rigorous testing and quality assurance. Your pharmacists will provide you with all necessary advice on the medicine and tell you about any side effects that should be monitored. None of these safeguards apply to illegal online medicines.”

The most immediate risk of illegal medications is the lack of quality control, according to Ms O’ Riordan. “What is most concerning is that there is no way for anyone to know what is in these supposed medications. Quite often they have been found to be worthless placebos, meaning genuine health complaints and illnesses go untreated, while in other cases the products contain toxins, harmful levels of active ingredients and even bacterial contamination.”

Ms O’Riordan said she was alarmed at the volume (449,411) of anabolic steroids that have been seized, “which indicates a possible rise in the number of people using these drugs to build muscle mass and boost sporting performance. This is an exceptionally dangerous endeavour. Many people do not realise the serious side effects of steroids, which can lead to addiction, and include fatigue, insomnia, decreased sex drive, steroid cravings and even psychosis.”

Ms O’Riordan concluded with a reminder that patients should only ever obtain medications through the appropriate healthcare sources.


Further information:

Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469
Siobhán Kane, IPU Press and Communications Manager, 087 7751510
Graham Union, MKC Communications, 086 7790744