Viagra worth £300,000 seized at Newcastle airport

A HAUL of the impotency drug Viagra, worth more than £300,000, has been seized by customs officials.

viagra, uk border agency, Newcastle Airport

A HAUL of the impotency drug Viagra, worth more than £300,000, has been seized by customs officials.

UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers found the haul of 80,000 tablets in a freight load that arrived at Newcastle International Airport.

The blue pills had been disguised as food additives and shipped into the region from Mumbai, India, via London Heathrow.

It is believed the drugs, which had been packed into eight separate crates, may be counterfeit and will now be destroyed to prevent them from reaching the black market.

Fred Simmons, assistant director of the UK Border Agency, said: “Medicines smuggled into the country illegally are often found to be counterfeit and as such pose a huge health risk to the end user.

“Anyone tempted to buy these illegitimate products, whether over the internet or otherwise, should also remember that the gangs smuggling these goods often have links to serious organised crime.

“This haul shows how robust the checks we carry out at Newcastle Airport are. We search for a range of items, including drugs and weapons as well as cigarettes and tobacco, to keep our border secure.”

The tablets had been concealed in crates and flown from India to London. The freight was then driven to Tyneside, its end destination, where it underwent customs checks at Newcastle Airport.

When officers inspected the load, they found more than 80,000 Sildenafil pills. Sildenafil is the active ingredient of Viagra and can be sold under that name on the black market.

Latest estimates suggest four Viagra tablets can be bought in India for as little as 50p but sold in the underworld for £15. It is not known whether the haul are genuine or fake but a high proportion of medicines smuggled into the UK are eventually found to be bogus.

Head of enforcement at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Mick Deats, said: “The dangers of buying medicines from illegitimate sources are that you just don’t know what you are taking.”

The haul had been dealt with by a handling agent and inquiries are ongoing into who is behind the scam.

Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction but was originally developed for angina. It has been available since 1998 and worldwide sales are estimated to be around £1bn.

 
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