Suppliers of counterfeit medicine could face up to 12 years in jail

The MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency) is consulting on proposals to strengthen legislation against counterfeit medicine. Current legislation is not deterring the sale of counterfeit medicine, particularly the sales of prescription medicine from illegal websites.

It is estimated 50% to 90% of medication bought over the web is non-genuine. It is certainly true to say the normal checks doctors carry out  before they issue prescription medicine are not taking place when medicine is supplied on illegal websites, many based overseas.

Under new proposals individuals found guilty of supplying or offering to supply counterfeit medicine could face up to 12 years in prison. The eventual aim is to introduce legislation across the whole of Europe. Consultations taking place under the auspices of the MHRA on UK legislation to counter the supply of counterfeit medicine will continue until March 2010.

It is proposed new legislation will cover not only counterfeit medicine but also fake packaging and advisory material. It is not clear what steps are being taken at present to prevent the operation of illegal websites, some of which purport to be based in the UK, from supplying prescription medicine. The worst offenders are overseas and it seem out of the reach of UK law, but some are UK based and are trading openly with apparent impunity.

In the view of Dr Fox more aggressive action is required on the part of the regulators if sites such as ours, providing genuine medicine under strict regulation, are to be protected. It would seem incumbent on the MHRA and the Care Quality Commission to stand behind websites they regulate, websites that at considerable expense to themselves comply with all UK regulations.