A Cloughmills man was today convicted at Antrim Crown Court in connection with his involvement in a large scale illegal veterinary medicines supply network, in which more than £681,000 of illegal and unauthorised veterinary products were supplied onto the black market.
Christopher Noel Logan, 53, of Drumbay Road, Cloughmills, Ballymena, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for five years on each of six charges (to run concurrently) which were before the court.
The charges concerned the long term illegal supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines from his Cloughmills hardware shop. Logan was also convicted on charges of possessing criminal property under Proceeds of Crime legislation relating to his possession of the proceeds of the sales of the illegal medicines. The illegal activities spanned a five year period between 2009 and late 2013. The prosecution leading to today’s conviction was brought by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG).
Supported by the PSNI, Departmental officers conducted several searches at commercial and residential premises in the Cloughmills area in late 2013, which uncovered evidence of the illegal supplies together with significant amounts of cash.
The drugs supplied in the illegal venture were worth more than £681,000 and included substantial quantities of unauthorised and illegal prescription only veterinary medicines including a range of antibiotics.
Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer Peter Moore, who led the investigation, said: “This was a significant criminal enterprise which involved the illegal supply of veterinary medicines on a commercial scale. The likelihood is that many of these illegal veterinary medicines were destined for use in food producing animals, which poses a real risk to the general public.
“This has been another opportunity for the Department to ensure that an illegal and dangerous medicines supply source has been closed and today’s conviction sends out a clear message of our determination to take action against all such illegal activity”.
Prof Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, DHSSPS, said: “Those involved in animal health and who use veterinary medicines are reminded that they should only source medicines from legal and reputable suppliers. There are dangers posed by the indiscriminate and unauthorised use of antibiotics as highlighted in the current World Antibiotic Awareness Week, being run by the World Health Organisation.
“To be imported, possessed and sold for use in the UK, all veterinary medicines must be authorised to ensure they are safe and effective and many must be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. Even where medicines are authorised they must be distributed and sold through regulated outlets such as pharmacies, where trained staff are available to provide the necessary advice on safe use.
“Our advice is clear – don’t be tempted to bypass the regulated supply system. I thank the public for their continuing support and would appeal to them to continue to report any suspicious activity to us.”
Following today’s sentence the PSNI Economic Crime Unit will conduct confiscation proceedings under Proceeds of Crime legislation.
Notes to editors:
1. In the UK, the body responsible for granting Marketing Authorisations for veterinary medicines is the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Products with a bona fide Marketing Authorisation are given unique numbers preceded by the letter “VM”. Therefore if a product does not have a VM number on its label it has not been authorised. A VM issued in respect of a legitimate product provides assurance to the user on the safety, quality and efficacy of the product.
2. It is the responsibility of the DHSSPS to enforce a number of the provisions within the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013 in Northern Ireland.
3. To report any suspicious activity in relation to the supply of any unauthorised or counterfeit medicines, please contact Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, DHSSPS Medicines Regulatory Group, on: 028 90522094 or by email at email@example.com
4. Christopher Noel Logan was sentenced in relation to the following charges:
Count 1 : Between the 30th day of June 2009 and the 30th day of September 2009, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £35,680.72 or thereabouts, including prescription only antibiotics Marbocyl, Micotil, Pen Strep other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2008.
Count 2: Between the 1st day of October 2009 and the 30th day of September 2011, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £345,500.67, or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Excenel, Hexasol, Tetra Delta other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2009.
Count 3: Between the 1st day of October 2011 and the 30th day of September 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £295,769.15, or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Tylovet, Ultrapen LA, Zactran other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2011.
Count 4: Between the 1st day of October 2013 and the 9th day of October 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, you supplied unauthorised veterinary medicinal products to the value of £4,328.40 or thereabouts including prescription only antibiotics Nuflor, Synulox, Boviseal other than in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 27, of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
Count 5: On the 9th day of October 2013 in the County Court Division of Antrim, had possession of criminal property in different currencies to the value of £12678.41, representing the proceeds of sale of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products.
Count 6: Between the 29th day of June 2009 and the 10th day of October 2013, in the County Court Division of Antrim, or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the court, possessed criminal property, namely, the proceeds of sale of unauthorised veterinary medicinal products.
5. Media enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number on 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.
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