Concern over sale of unlicensed medicines in UK

UNLICENSED medicines from Poland and other Eastern European countries are increasingly being sold in UK shops according to reports by the MHRA.

Last year 74 cases involving unlicensed medicines from Eastern Europe being sold in "corner shops” were investigated by the MHRA and these included prescription-only medicines. Many are not labelled in English and do not include English-language patient information leaflets.

Only medicines which have been licensed for sale in the UK can be sold or supplied in this country unless a prior MHRA Parallel Import Licence or a Parallel Distribution Notification has been obtained for its supply in the UK.

In an effort to overcome any misunderstanding about product status, the MHRA has produced guidance for consumers, retailers and wholesalers to provide assistance in terms of understanding and complying with the UK regulatory requirements. The MHRA is also working with the Polish medicines regulator in order to help communities where these medicines are being sold.

Nimo Ahmed, MHRA Acting Head of Enforcement said: "Polish medicines imported into the UK and sold in Polish language packs have not been approved for sale in the UK and cannot be traded lawfully on the UK market. Medicines offered for sale and supply in the UK must be labelled in English.

"There are also specific health concerns with certain medicines that should be prescribed and dispensed under the supervision of a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a pharmacist. Anyone who self-medicates and buys these medicines from shops that are not registered pharmacies could be endangering their health."