Sunday, May 17, 2009

Buy Tamiflu? - Will it be fake or out of date?

Press release

Date: 07 May 2009
Time: 09:30
Subject: Medicines regulator warns of dangers of obtaining online medicines for H1N1 influenza A
Contact: Press Office 020 7084 3535/3564 or
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is warning consumers about the dangers of obtaining medicines for H1N1 influenza A online, as cyber criminals could attempt to profit from the threat of a pandemic.

A recent INTERPOL statement says between three and four per cent of SPAM emails currently in circulation relate to H1N1 influenza A with hundreds of new web pages on the subject also appearing.

The MHRA believes this will include online offers for the sale of Tamiflu and/or Relenza, the anti-viral medicines available on prescription only.

The risk of obtaining substandard or counterfeit medicines is significantly increased when prescription only medicines (POMs) are purchased from unauthorised sources such as illegal online pharmacies. The public are urged not to purchase such medicines online.

There are a range of penalties available under the law for dealing with offences including fraud, theft and supply of counterfeit drugs.

The MHRA is actively monitoring the Internet for sales of suspected counterfeit Tamiflu and Relenza.

Notes to Editor

  1. The MHRA with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has recently developed an information leaflet for the public warning of the dangers of obtaining medication online and also provides guidance on the safest way to purchase medicines. An initial 600,000 of the leaflets are being delivered in prescription bags through every pharmacy in Great Britain during May 2009.
  2. The RPSGB has introduced an internet pharmacy logo to help the public identify if a website is being operated by a bona fide pharmacy in Great Britain. More information is available at (external link).
  3. The MHRA conducts a number of Internet Days of Action (IDA) per year which involves working alongside international regulators to take down websites acting illegally. Media coverage is proactively pursued to help warn the public from online purchasing and discourage operators from such illegal activity. Deterrent sentences are always sought with substantial fines and the subsequent confiscation of illegitimate assets. Results against illegal websites to date include the seizure of millions of pounds worth of unlicensed and fake medicines leading to 18 successful prosecutions and the closure of numerous websites.
  4. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgments to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone –the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry – to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.

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