Department of Health warning over illicit prescription drugs in circulation

Date published: 23 December 2016

The Department of Health today issued a warning about the dangers of using prescription medicines from illicit sources.

Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer for the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG), Peter Moore said: “The Department is aware that distinctive red and white capsules containing the prescription only medicine pregabalin may have been illegally manufactured for circulation on the black market. 

“I would ask members of the public to avoid any prescription medicines obtained from illicit sources, whatever that source might be. Be in no doubt that medicines sourced in this way present a real danger to those taking them. Young people in particular may be unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking these drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol."

Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Department of Health's Medicines Regulatory Group, added: “The risk to the public due to illegal or counterfeit medicines is significant. This problem is not something we can tackle in isolation and the Medicines Regulatory Group is committed to working with other agencies to disrupt the supply of illegal medicines and will take every opportunity to raise public awareness around the dangers of using medicines from unregulated sources.

“I would urge the public to be vigilant and to avoid putting their health at risk by using medication from an illicit source. People should only take medicines in consultation with a healthcare professional who has access to patient health records."

Notes to editors: 

  1. To report any suspicious activity in relation to any unauthorised or counterfeit medicines in the north, please contact Mr Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, DOH Medicines Regulatory Group, on: 028 9052 2094 or by email:
  2. Pregabalin is a prescription only medicine used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain (which is the result of damage to nerve tissue which can produce a burning, shooting or scalding feeling) and anxiety.
  3. Further information is available on nidirect.
  4. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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