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Press release: Six month prison sentence for illegal sale and supply of slimming pills containing ephedrine

Press release

Date: 28/05/2010
Time: 12:15
Contact: Press Office 020 7084 3651
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

A 44-year-old man received a six month prison sentence today (Friday 28 May) for the illegal sale and supply of unlicensed slimming pills containing ephedrine.

David Green of Wickersley, Rotherham, pleaded guilty at the Sheffield Crown Court for advertising and selling an unlicensed medicine without a licence as well as possession of a medicine with intent to place it on the market without the required licence.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) investigation included requests for compliance with medicines regulations, however, Mr Green continued to sell the illegal products from his website www.wholesalefx.co.uk as well as via online auction sites.

MHRA investigators subsequently seized several hundred bottles of the capsules which laboratory results confirmed contained ephedrine (Thermoslimmer capsules [3.5mg] and Inch Aid capsules [4mg]).

MHRA Head of Operations, Danny Lee-Frost, said: “The products being sold by Mr Green have undergone no quality control and he continued selling these products even after he was made aware of the dangers of what he was doing.

“This is yet another example of the danger of buying any type of drug from an unregulated source. You simply don’t know what you are taking, the dosage, the conditions it was made in or most importantly, the effect it might have on your health.”

Notes to Editor

1. Anyone who has concerns about misleading advertising or promotional offers of medicines should contact the MHRA Advertising Standards Unit, 14-112, Market Towers, Vauxhall, London SW8 5NQ or phone 020 7084 2000. Alternatively, contact the pharmaceutical self-regulatory bodies, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) for advertising for over the counter medicines, or the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) for advertisements to health professionals for prescription medicines.

2. The advertising of medicines is controlled by a combination of statutory measures (with both criminal and civil sanctions) enforced by the MHRA, and self-regulation through Codes of Practice for the pharmaceutical industry, administered by trade associations.

3. The ‘Blue Guide on Advertising and Promotion of Medicines in the UKPDF file (opens in new window) (206Kb)’ explains the regulations and provides clarification on the Agency’s interpretation of them and how advertising of medicines is regulated.

4. If an individual is convicted of offences under the Medicines Act 1968, they can be sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Where appropriate the MHRA will use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to determine whether or not benefits were accrued through criminal activity and will recoup illicit earnings if the individual is found guilty. In cases involving counterfeit medicines, the MHRA will use the Fraud Act or Trade Marks Act which both carry a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

5. 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 judgements 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.

Page last modified: 28 May 2010