Lurgan man receives suspended sentence for importation and possession of illegal veterinary medicines

Date published: 06 December 2016

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A Lurgan man was today convicted at Craigavon Magistrates' Court for importing and possession of unauthorised prescription veterinary products for use on the black market.

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Karl Spencer Hewitt, 51, formerly of Demesne Avenue, Lurgan was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months (to run concurrently) on each of seven charges of unlawful importation and possession of unauthorised prescription only veterinary medicines which were before the court.

The investigation leading to today’s conviction was conducted by officers from the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG).

During a search at the suspect’s home in February 2015, illegal prescription only veterinary medicines were seized and during a follow-up investigation officers further established the illegal importation of prescription only veterinary medicines from Australia, USA and Europe between 2013 and 2015.

Department of Health Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, Peter Moore, who led the investigation, said: “This investigation saw the closure of an illegal importation network operating outside the regulated regime and today’s sentence sends a clear message that this kind of illegal activity won’t be tolerated. The unauthorised medicines were primarily intended for the greyhound market but have a range of applications across the veterinary sector.

“To be imported, possessed and sold for use, all veterinary medicines must be authorised to ensure they are safe and effective, and many must be prescribed by a veterinary practitioner. Even where medicines are authorised, they must be distributed and sold through licensed outlets where trained staff are available to provide the necessary advice on safe use.”

Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, Prof Mike Mawhinney said: “The Department has made it very clear that it will continue to be vigilant in the regulation of veterinary medicines and this investigation clearly demonstrates our determination in this regard.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Charges:
    • On a date unknown between the 31st day of December 2013 and the 26th day of February 2016 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 25(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, imported or were concerned in the importation of an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Traumeel, contrary to Regulation 43(q) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 21st day of July 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 25(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, imported or were concerned in the importation of an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Phenylbutazone and Resperine, contrary to Regulation 43(q) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 23rd day of February 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 25(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, imported or were concerned in the importation of an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely 76 bottles of injectable veterinary products and one pack of paste for veterinary use, contrary to Regulation 43(q) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 25th day of February 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 26(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, possessed an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Traumeel, contrary to Regulation 43(r) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 25th day of February 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 26(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, possessed an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Tripart, contrary to Regulation 43(r) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 25th day of February 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 26(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, possessed an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Resperine, contrary to Regulation 43(r) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
    • On the 25th day of February 2015 in the County Court Division of Craigavon, in breach of Regulation 26(1) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013, possessed an unauthorised veterinary medicinal product, namely Phenylbutazone, contrary to Regulation 43(r) of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
  2. In the UK, authorised veterinary products and medicines with a 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. The body responsible for Marketing Authorisations is the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).
  3. A VM issued in respect of a legitimate product provides assurance to the user on the safety, quality and efficacy of the product. DoH has responsibility enforcing certain provisions of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013.
  4. To report any suspicious activity in relation to the supply of any unauthorised or counterfeit medicines, please contact Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, DoH  Medicines Regulatory Group, on: 028 90522335 or by email: peter.moore@health-ni.gov.uk
  5. Media enquiries to the DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0579. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number on 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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