More than 10,000 ‘dangerous’ fake condoms which burst and break were seized in a dawn raid in Sheffield.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency raided a property on Charlotte Road, Highfield, and found the counterfeit Durex condoms.
A man had allegedly been importing fake condoms in bulk online from China.
Officers seized a box of 10,000 condoms and sealed envelopes full of the contraceptives ready to be sent to eBay buyers across the UK
Danny Lee-Frost, MHRA head of operations, warned: “If you use these, you are playing a game of Russian roulette.”
“These condoms are not going to work and they won’t protect against pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases.”
That was the stark warning after 10,000 fake condoms were seized during a dawn swoop on a Sheffield property.
Officers from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency carried out the raid as part of a worldwide crackdown on fake pharmaceuticals.
Danny Lee-Frost, MHRA head of operations, said: “If you use these, you are playing a game of Russian roulette.
“These are not safe to use.
“Previous tests on counterfeit condoms by the trademark holder have found they fail every test they put them through – they burst and break.
“The condoms have a CE mark on them, which is the European Certification mark, but they haven’t actually been tested. These condoms are not going to work and they won’t protect against pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases.”
Officers from the agency raided a property on Charlotte Road, Highfield, as part of the global clampdown.
The agency first became aware of the trade through internet auction site eBay.
The raid was part of a global Interpol investigation dubbed Operation Pangea VIII, a week of action across 115 countries.
In the UK, £15.8m of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices were seized in the week of raids.
The seizures – the biggest recorded to date in the UK – included huge quantities of illegally supplied and potentially harmful slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets and narcolepsy medicines.
The MHRA described the Sheffield raid as ‘very successful’.
Mr Lee-Frost said: “When we went inside, we found an estimated 10,000 condoms – the box had contained 12,000 when it was new.
“This is a very significant number. The man was a bit shocked to see us, but he has been very compliant.
“We will take these away and investigate them, then come back and interview the man.
“The most obvious law being broken is trademark protection. That carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. It could be quite a significant jail term if we go down that route.
“We don’t know if this is the only box he’s had, or if it’s one of many.
“The original intelligence came from the trademark holder. They go online and see their brand being sold with fakes.”
And he warned anybody else thinking about selling fake healthcare products.
“If anybody is thinking about buying these to sell on, you face being investigated and prosecuted under the Trademarks Act,” he said.
“It’s vital we take this action and alert the public to the dangers of fake and counterfeit condoms.”
Nationwide, 6.2 million doses of falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines were seized and 1,380 websites have been shut down.
A total of 320 YouTube videos which sought to profit from illegal medicine sales were also removed.
Worldwide, 156 arrests have been made and £51.6m of medicines seized.
Alastair Jeffrey, MHRA head of enforcement, said: “Operation Pangea is the global response to internet facilitated medicines and devices crime. As a result of our intelligence-led enforcement operations, we have seized £15.8m worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices in the UK alone – almost twice as much as we recorded last year, and clear evidence that this is a growing concern that has to be taken seriously.
“Criminals involved in the illegal supply of medical products through the internet aren’t interested in your health – they are interested in your money and are able to get this by selling you a potentially dangerous product, or by stealing your bank details.
“To protect your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or registered pharmacy which can trade online.”