Northern Ireland

'Cancer curing coffee' among thousands of seized drugs

Irish police and customs have seized 262,000 fake medicines with an estimated value of 500,000 euros.

The seizures, co-ordinated by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), were part of Interpol's Operation Pangea III.

The week-long campaign involved 45 countries and targeted internet sales of counterfeit and illegal medicines.

The seized items included a slimming coffee which, along with supposed weight loss benefits, also claimed to be a treatment for cancer.

Other items included fake erectile dysfunction medication as well as mood stabilisers such as diazepam.

Some of the weight loss products contained sibutramine, which is banned in the EU due to associated health risks.

Dangerous deception

IMB chief executive Pat O'Mahony warned that even websites which seem professional and genuine could be selling harmful substances disguised as medication.

"The reality is they are an elaborate and potentially dangerous deception," he said.

"Purchasers have no way of knowing what these medicines really contain, where they were made or the effect they might have on your health."

Five websites in the Republic of Ireland were taken down and one person has been arrested.

In total Operation Pangea III led to the seizure of 1,014,043 tablets and the closure of 290 websites worldwide.

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