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MHRA catches Maidenhead couple in £1.6m black market medicines ploy

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MHRA catches Maidenhead couple in £1.6m black market medicines ploy

A Berkshire-based couple have received suspended prison sentences for the illegal possession of and intent to supply £1.6m worth of unlicensed medicines.

Karina Filimonova and Andrejs Stolarovs of Maidenhead were each sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months following an MHRA investigation that first began in 2020 when Royal Mail identified “suspicious parcel activity,” the medicines watchdog said on Friday September 8.

The MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit worked with local police to arrest the couple at their home, where they uncovered more than 1.3 million pills comprising 65 brands of medicines including numerous erectile dysfunction medicines, HIV antiretrovirals, finasteride, drugs used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, doxycycline, the acne drug isotretinoin, naltrexone and the breast cancer medication tamoxifen.

Altogether, the drugs had an estimated black market value of £1.6m.

The MHRA investigation led to the Crown Prosecution Service bringing charges against the pair, who pleaded guilty to possession and intent to supply medicine products contrary to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 at Southwark Crown Court on June 13 this year. 

In addition to the suspended custodial sentences, the couple were ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. 

MHRA deputy director of criminal enforcement Andy Morling said: “This was a sophisticated operation illegally bringing unlicensed medicines into the UK from Singapore and India, and then distributing them across the country and abroad.

“Criminals trading in medicines illegally like this are not only breaking the law, but they also have no regard for your safety. These are powerful medicines that can lead to serious adverse health consequences if taken without appropriate medical supervision. 

“We work hard to prevent, detect and investigate illegal activity involving medicines and medical devices to protect the public and defeat this harmful trade.

“Our Criminal Enforcement Unit will continue working to protect your health by disrupting this harmful trade and bringing dangerous offenders to justice.”

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