Fewer medicines diverted from legal supply chain to black market

Author: Ingrid Torjesen
Fewer medicines diverted from legal supply chain to black market

Diversions of drugs such as diazepam, nitrazepam, temazepam zopiclone and zolpidem from the legal medical supply chain to the black market by criminals has fallen, data from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) shows.

Between January 2016 compared to March 2017 black market trading in 10mg diazepam diverted from the legal supply chain was down 73%. Trading of nitrazepam fell by 30%, trading of top strength temazepam was down by 18%, and trading of zolpidem was also down by 18%.

In 2016, MHRA launched a major investigation into the diversion of medicines from the legal supply chain, estimated to be worth up to £200m.

As of January, the MHRA said it had initiated 32 investigations into illegal trading of drugs from the legal supply chain, 86 suspects have been either arrested or interviewed under caution and there have been criminal convictions. In total 13 wholesale dealers have had their licenses discontinued or terminated for the diversion of supplies, and the General Pharmaceutical Council have suspended eight pharmacists.

Alastair Jeffrey, MHRA head of enforcement said: “Selling medicines outside of the supply chain is a serious criminal offence and the latest figures and the reduction in diversion shows our determination to protect public health.

“The expansion of our operation shows we will continue to track down and prosecute those recklessly endangering public safety by illegally selling prescription medicines.”

The MHRA has published advice for patients on buying medicines safely online and how to avoid unscrupulous sites.