The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has welcomed a jail sentence handed down to a businessman who orchestrated a global plot to supply fake drugs.
Ashish Halai, 31, of Borehamwood, near London, was part of a gang of four men who smuggled copies of Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) and alopecia treatments from illegal factories in China, Pakistan and elsewhere in Asia.
Tens of thousands of tablets were bought for as little as 50 US cents but sold on to unsuspecting customers over the internet for up to £20 a time.
Halai was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Kingston Crown Court on four counts of selling fake medication.
Three other men – Gary Haywood, 58, from Leicester, Ashwin Patel, 24, of London, and Zahid Mirza, 45, of Ilford, Essex – were all found guilty last month of taking part in the conspiracy and will be sentenced next month.
The MHRA said the case was the largest of its kind to be heard in the UK.
The trial heard that outwardly the products appeared almost identical to the genuine drugs, with carefully forged logos, packaging and patient information leaflets.
MHRA head of enforcement Mick Deats said: “The public are strongly advised to avoid buying medicines online where the risk of being supplied a counterfeit product is substantially increased.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to prosecute those involved in this trade and confiscate the profits of their criminal activity.
“This successful prosecution should serve as a clear signal to those who counterfeit and supply these drugs.”
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