The use of the internet to purchase unlicensed medicines continues to be a cause for concern for the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). In general, with medicines purchased online there is no guarantee that the products are genuine. They may not contain the correct active ingredient or may even contain dangerous or toxic substances.
The State Laboratory assists the HPRA to control the use of unlicensed medicines by analysing seized pharmaceutical and herbal products for the presence of pharmaceutically active compounds.
The use of veterinary drugs and growth promoting substances in the rearing of animals for human consumption is also strictly controlled by EU legislation which regulates the availability, possession and use of all animal remedies. Samples of counterfeit and illegal veterinary drugs and growth promoters, submitted by D/AFM Special Investigations Unit, are analysed for a wide range of active ingredients such as steroids, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Due to the diverse range of drugs tested for in this area, the laboratory has obtained a "flexible scope" of accreditation to ISO 17025 which means that all results reported are accredited once the appropriate method development and validation procedures are followed when new methods of analysis are introduced.
Much of this analysis is used for litigation purposes and State Laboratory staff provide expert testimony in subsequent court prosecutions taken by the HPRA and D/AFM.