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Programme exposes counterfeit dangers

Published on 12/01/06 at 09:32am

An undercover investigation by a TV documentary team has uncovered serious flaws in the policing of UK pharmaceutical wholesaling and the ease with which counterfeit medicines can find their way into circulation.

ITV's Tonight with Trevor MacDonald team found it easy to fraudulently acquire an MHRA wholesaler's licence using bogus details.

The programme highlights existing concerns about the security of the supply chain, with counterfeit versions of Lipitor found in the UK last year.

Pharmacist's body the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it was alarmed by the programme's findings.

David Pruce, director, practice and quality improvement at the Society said: "Counterfeit medicines are a threat to patient safety and we are extremely concerned about the ease with which the programme obtained a wholesale dealer's licence from the MHRA."

"This system urgently needs review in order to prevent it being used as a potential route for counterfeit medicines to enter the legitimate medicine supply chain. We are urging the government to conduct an urgent inquiry into the system of licensing of wholesale dealers."

The MHRA says its licensing procedures are under regular review to ensure they are robust and provide appropriate safeguards for public health, and is investigating the documentary maker's case.

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