UK MHRA urges vigilance after a spate of pharma thefts

The UK medicines regulator has issued a warning to pharmacies and wholesalers to be wary of criminals using falsified information to try to steal prescription medicines.

In a blog post, Tony Orme of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) inspectorate describes two attempts in Scotland where an individual used the registration number of a doctor to order diazepam and other medicines prone to misuse, giving a delivery address that would enable the shipped drugs to be intercepted.

He also cites two thefts from wholesalers in the last few weeks where medicines have been collected from warehouses by individuals posing as authorised customers, hijacking the credentials of legitimate pharmacy customers but with false contact details.

“A further twist that manufacturers and wholesalers need to be aware of is criminals impersonating legitimate wholesalers to order products,” writes Orme, noting that in this case they often place orders with legitimate-sounding email addresses, for example using .com or .org domain names rather than

When the ordered goods arrive at the wholesaler they are placed in quarantine as they are unexpected, he notes. An email or telephone call is then placed by the criminals posing as the supplier to advise of the incorrect delivery and arrange pick-up of the goods.

Orme describes the measures that should be taken to avoid this type of criminality, including making sure medicines are sent out to verifiable addresses rather than residential properties, and being wary of pick-up requests if that’s not normal procedure with a technical agreement to that effect in place.

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