The number of units of illegal medicine detained by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) reached a near record high in 2021.
According to new figures, some 1.6 million dosage units of falsified and other illegal products were detained last year.
It comes as the HPRA has stressed the health dangers associated with sourcing prescription medicines online.
Of the illegal medicine seized in 2021, sedatives accounted for 46 per cent, while anabolic steroids accounted for 13 per cent.
Some 10 per cent of the medicine seized was analgesics while erectile dysfunction medicines accounted for six per cent.
Meanwhile, 56,385 units of Covid-19 medicines were detained, including 28,302 units of Ivermectin.
Five prosecution cases were initiated in 2021, of which three related to the unauthorised supply of anabolic steroids. One of the cases related to the unauthorised supply of sildenafil citrate and another case related to the unauthorised supply of medicinal products from a market stall.
Grainne Power, director of compliance with the HPRA, said that the level of illegal medicine detained in 2021 is very concerning.
“It’s so important that members of the public are aware of the health risks associated with buying prescription only products from unverified and unregulated sources,” Ms Power said.
“When you obtain your medicines through recognised and regulated sources you will know you are getting products that can be both relied upon to contain the right ingredients and that are tailored to your specific needs under the supervision of a doctor or pharmacist.
“So, it isn’t just about people wasting their money on falsified or counterfeit product, it is potentially far more serious than that.
“As well as the risk of significant side effects or medicine interactions, for some there is also the very real risk their condition may go untreated, or it could be made worse.
“The HPRA has over many years identified that a significant proportion of detained products are falsely labelled, do not contain accurate information on the strength of active ingredient they contain, or have been found to contain a different ingredient altogether.
“When you consider also that these products are often delivered without a leaflet, instructions for use or information on the correct dose, the illegal supply of unregulated and potentially fake medicines clearly presents a significant risk to public health.”
Amid the high quantity of illegal medicine detained in 2021, 461 websites, ecommerce listings and social media pages were amended or shutdown.