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Co Armagh man receives suspended sentence for importing illegal veterinary medicines

A Lurgan man was yesterday convicted at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court for importing and possession of unauthorised prescription veterinary products for use on the black market.

Karl Spencer Hewitt, 51, formerly of Demesne Avenue, Lurgan was sentenced to two months imprisonment suspended for 12 months (to run concurrently) on each of seven charges of unlawful importation and possession of unauthorised prescription only veterinary medicines which were before the court.

The investigation leading to yesterday’s conviction was conducted by officers from the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG).

During a search at the suspect’s home in February 2015, illegal prescription only veterinary medicines were seized and during a follow-up investigation officers further established the illegal importation of prescription only veterinary medicines from Australia, USA and Europe between 2013 and 2015.

Department of Health Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer, Peter Moore, who led the investigation, said: “This investigation saw the closure of an illegal importation network operating outside the regulated regime and today’s sentence sends a clear message that this kind of illegal activity won’t be tolerated. The unauthorised medicines were primarily intended for the greyhound market but have a range of applications across the veterinary sector.

“To be imported, possessed and sold for use, all veterinary medicines must be authorised to ensure they are safe and effective, and many must be prescribed by a veterinary practitioner. Even where medicines are authorised, they must be distributed and sold through licensed outlets where trained staff are available to provide the necessary advice on safe use.”

Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group, Prof Mike Mawhinney said: “The Department has made it very clear that it will continue to be vigilant in the regulation of veterinary medicines and this investigation clearly demonstrates our determination in this regard.”

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