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India, UK step up drive against illegal medicines smuggled to Britain, Europe

India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) recently seized 350,000 tablets of potent medicines, such as Diazepam, Tramadol and Zopiclone, destined for the UK, Europe and the US, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday.

world Updated: Oct 13, 2018 09:13 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
india,UK,DRI
Seizure by an Indian agency of large quantities of potent medicines destined for the UK, Europe and the US has led the authorities in Britain and India to enhance intelligence-sharing to tackle international medicines crime. (Representative Image)(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

After large quantities of unlicenced medicines sourced from India were recentlyseized in the United Kingdom, authorities of the two countries have enhanced intelligence-sharing and are focusing on regions suspected of sending such consignments to the Britain and Europe.

India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) recently seized 350,000 tablets of potent medicines, such as Diazepam, Tramadol and Zopiclone, destined for the UK, Europe and the US, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday.

It said following a meeting in New Delhi earlier this month, MHRA will send intelligence to the DRI, enabling the Indian agency to target regions suspected of sending unlicenced medicines into the UK as part of efforts to tackle international medicines crime.

In 2015, India and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding to enhancecollaboration in the area of medicines and medical devices and improving public safety.

MHRA’s head of enforcement Alastair Jeffrey said: “Our active collaboration with Indian government agencies sends a strong message to criminals; when we work with our global partners we are able to disrupt criminal activity through the identification, arrest and prosecution of offenders wherever they are.

“We are working tirelessly to identify all those involved in bringing unlicensed medicines into the UK. Our collaborative efforts with key partners like India will help protect the health of UK citizens.”

DRI additional director general Vivek Chaturvedi said: “Indian customs is committed to detecting and preventing illegal cross-border trade in medicines and psychotropic substances. Such collaboration is mutually beneficial to both countries in protecting the health of their citizens and in prosecuting the criminals involved in such offences.”

The medicines seized recently were Zopiclone, Zolpidem, Lorazepam, Diazepam, Tramadol and Alprazolam, but there have been previous seizures of other India-sourced medicines, including those dealing with erectile dysfunction.

MHRA is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe.

First Published: Oct 12, 2018 10:32 IST