At least 50 pharmacies in Britain are probed over supplying deadly prescription drugs such as Xanax and Tramadol to black market dealers
- Eighty-six people, from at least 50 pharmacies, have been arrested or interviewed in connection with illegally supplying prescription drugs
- The number of active investigations into the theft of medicine by professionals has soared by almost 70 per cent in a year
- Up to £200million worth of medication went on the black market between 2013 and 2016
At least 50 pharmacies in Britain are under investigation for helping funnel deadly prescription drugs to the black market.
Eighty-six people, including 14 pharmacists, have been arrested or interviewed under caution for illegally supplying dangerous drugs such as Xanax and Tramadol stolen from the regulated supply chain.
Senior business owners with a ‘controlling interest’ in multiple premises are among the pharmacists arrested. It has emerged the number of active investigations into the theft of medicine by professionals has soared by almost 70 per cent in a year.
At least 50 pharmacies in Britain are under investigation for helping funnel deadly prescription drugs to the black market
Government watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency [MHRA], whose intelligence helps police make arrests, has now triggered 32 cases, up from 19 in 2018. The number of arrests has doubled from 40 in the same period.
The watchdog investigations were sparked when it emerged that up to £200million worth of medication was diverted from the supply chain to the criminal market between 2013 and 2016.
They have since led to 13 wholesale medicines dealers having their licences revoked or terminated, while some 485,000 pills were seized by MHRA investigators last year.
There has been a 70 per cent increase in active investigations into the theft of medicine by professionals
Drugs are stolen from pharmacies or wholesalers by professionals and typically passed on to dealers who sell them online via illegal internet pharmacies, the ‘dark web’, social media or on the streets.
Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA, said: ‘People need to be aware that if they get involved in this criminality they won’t get away scot-free. They are dealing in controlled drugs. They are drug dealers – it’s as simple as that.’
Last night Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: ‘We condemn this activity and support the ongoing investigation to bring perpetrators to justice. Patient safety is paramount and the profession will be shocked that any of their number could be involved in this kind of activity.’
Up to £200million worth of medication was diverted from the supply chain to the criminal market between 2013 and 2016
Last year the Mail revealed how professionals were willing to sell prescription-only drugs over the counter. A pharmacist in central London sold an undercover reporter 60 Xanax tablets for £150 and 100 Tramadol tablets for £250 without asking to see a prescription.
Labour’s community health spokesman Julie Cooper MP said rogue pharmacists ‘need to be brought to book’, adding: ‘I take a very dim view of any health professional who risks the safety of the public.’