The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched a new three-year anti-counterfeiting strategy, the Falsified Medical Products Strategy 2012 – 2015, which includes several measures centred on prevention, incident management and investigation.
The aim of the campaign is to reduce the risks to patients and consumers in the UK from threats posed by counterfeit medical products, while increasing the pressure on those behind the illegal activity.
The new strategy will bring together stakeholders and international partners to combine efforts in raising public awareness and carrying out enforcement policy.
MHRA acting head of enforcement, Nimo Ahmed, said the UK market for medicines is immense and is estimated to be worth around £8bn.
"We are committed to working closely with international partners and providing leadership in dealing with this issue to protect public health and maintaining public confidence in the way we obtain our medical products," Ahmed added.
The MHRA said it has seized more than £25m of counterfeit and stolen medicines in the last five years.
The UK medicines regulator said that in 2010, a coordinated international operation aimed at illegal online medicine supply saw more than two million doses being seized globally, almost 500 websites taken down and 90 people arrested.
In 2011, over 13,500 illegal websites and 2.5 million doses of medicines were seized and in March 2012, a joint operation across Europe saw 300,000 doses of medicines seized.
Recently, a UK individual was ordered to pay a confiscation order of £14m for selling and supplying fake and unlicensed medicines.