Close to 900,000 units of illegal medicines detained by the HPRA in 2023

The HPRA has released its annual enforcement data which shows that it detained 874,945 dosage units* of falsified and other illegal medicines in 2023.

In the 12 months of 2023, the most significant categories of illegal products detained included:

  • Sedative medicines – 294,145 units detained
  • Anabolic steroids – 250,922 units detained
  • Erectile dysfunction medicines – 84,119 units detained
  • Analgesic medicines – 42,307 units detained
  • Stimulants – 24,530 units detained
HPRA Illegal medicines

There was a more than 20% increase in the volume of illegal anabolic steroids detained. This is continuing an upward trend observed over several years. Anabolic steroids can cause serious physical and psychological health issues. The potential physical side effects alone include heart failure, liver issues, kidney damage, and infertility.

We are also seeing a concerning upward trend in detentions of Melanotan 2, an unregulated substance promoted as a self-tanning aid, as well as botulinum toxin and online semaglutide and liraglutide products.

Once consumers step outside of the regulated supply chain, they have absolutely no guarantees as to safety, quality or effectiveness. Some of these substances are not authorised for use by any regulator anywhere in the world while other products that are presented as legitimate medicines, could well be falsified or fake.

The HPRA works in close co-operation with colleagues from An Garda Síochána and Revenue’s Customs Service. There continues to be significant inter-agency collaboration to combat the illegal supply of health products into and within Ireland. The HPRA also co-operates and shares intelligence with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies across Europe and worldwide to prevent the illegal manufacture, importation and distribution of medicines, medical devices, and cosmetics.

The HPRA also continues to monitor online activity promoting prescription medicines and other substances, and routinely intervenes to disrupt this promotion. Enforcement actions taken by the HPRA in 2023 include 2,348 websites, e-commerce listings and/or social media pages being amended or shutdown.

*Dosage units = individual tablets, capsules, vials, etc.

Regulatory affairs is a complex field developed from the desire of governments to protect public health by controlling the safety and efficacy of products. At Jenson R+ our team has a comprehensive understanding of complex national standards in the EU, UK and beyond.
Our specialist Quality teams are highly experienced in Good Distribution Practice (GDP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for both medical devices and medicines. Get in touch with us at and we’ll be more than happy to hear from you.
Brigid Quinn
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