Medical authorities in Britain have launched an internal inquiry after hazardous medicines for commonplace situations have been stolen from Italian hospitals, offered to UK pharmacies and probably reached sufferers.
Criminal gangs linked to the mafia infiltrated the NHS supply chain in 2014, which ended in prescription drugs for prostate cancer, epilepsy, and schizophrenia being imported into the United Kingdom.
More than 10,000 units of stolen capsules had arrived inside the UK by 2014, consistent with an investigation through Channel four Dispatches, with four kinds of risky remedy sold to pharmacies.
The drug treatments have been no longer counterfeit, however, given the time they spent outdoor of the regulated supply chain they have been classed as “falsified”. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which did not alert the wider public on the time, said it believed the danger to public health turned into low because they have been valid drug treatments.
However, throughout an assessment of its 2014 research into reviews of stolen drugs bought to be used inside the UK, the regulator located that statistics regarding the probe had been incomplete – prompting an inner review to make sure it was adequately shielding the regulated deliver chain.
“In 2014, following reviews of medicines being stolen in Italy and sold to the United Kingdom, we undertook research and acted to make sure products on the UK marketplace were safe,” stated MHRA chief govt Ian Hudson. “We obtained these records more than a yr after the thefts occurred.
“In addition to this case, the MHRA has seized falsified drug treatments from the regulated deliver chain most effective nine times within the closing decade, and there is no proof any of these drug treatments made it to sufferers.”
A well-known high street pharmacy chain stated to have stocked and prescribed the drug treatments is to be named on Monday by using Dispatches.
The first indication that the stolen Italian medicines had entered the United Kingdom’s supply chain came in March 2014, when a German pharmaceutical wholesaler bought breast most cancers drugs which were located to have been tampered with and had grown to be ineffective.
The Italian regulator investigated a number of important thefts among 2011 and 2014 that saw heaps of crucial drug treatments for serious illnesses go lacking, later getting into reputable scientific supply chains across Europe.
It is understood that the MHRA wrote to wholesalers and asked them to make sure the affected merchandise did no longer enter the deliver chain and to quarantine such medicines if vital and get in touch with those they furnished inquiring for they do the identical.
The MHRA does now not maintain prescribing the information and has no direct evidence that patients acquired these drugs. However, it stated that “there is an opportunity that a number of these drugs reached affected person degree”.
Former Liberal Democrat fitness minister Norman Lamb led calls for an assessment. “People to start with want to be advised that they will have acquired drug treatments that got here thru an illegal direction,” he stated. “And what I locate notable is that there hasn’t been openness approximately this having passed off.”