A record load of fake drugs and devices has been seized by UK watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency estimated to be worth just shy of £16 million.

The haul include “huge quantities” of illegally supplied and potentially harmful slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets, anaemia tablets and narcolepsy tablets, while unlicensed foreign medicines and fake condoms were also seized.

MHRA enforcement officers, assisted by local police, raided known addresses in connection with the illegal internet supply of potentially harmful medicines as part of the global ‘Operation Pangea VIII’ initiative, coordinated through INTERPOL, which has now resulted in 156 arrests worldwide.

Almost 6.2 million doses of falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines, 15,000 of which were medical devices, were bagged with a total value of £15.8 million. This was almost twice the amount seized last year, highlighting the growing trend towards lifestyle medications and products that are unlicensed, falsified or controlled despite the clear danger.

The UK arm of the operation also resulted in the closure of 1,380 websites selling healthcare products illegally, 339 of which were domestic sites, the regulator noted. 

In another stark warning to the public on the dangers of buying potentially fake and unlicensed products online, MHRA head enforcement Alastair Jeffrey said: “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,” he stressed.