These include self-testing kits, ‘miracle cures’, ‘antiviral misting sprays’, and unlicensed medicines.
At this time, there are currently no medicines licensed specifically for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and there are no CE marked self-testing kits approved for home use.
The MHRA has disabled 9 domain names and social media accounts selling fake or unauthorised COVID-19 products.
Lynda Scammell, MHRA Enforcement Official said:
Don’t be fooled by online offers for medical products to help prevent or treat COVID-19
There is no medicine licensed specifically to treat or prevent COVID-19, therefore any claiming to do so are not authorised and have not undergone regulatory approvals required for sale on the UK market. We cannot guarantee the safety or quality of the product and this poses a risk to your health.
The risk of buying medicines and medical devices from unregulated websites are that you just don’t know what you will receive and could be putting your health at risk.
We are working alongside other law enforcement agencies to combat this type of criminal activity.
This advice is part of the MHRA’s ongoing #FakeMeds campaign which aims to encourage people who buy medical products online to make sure they are purchasing from legitimate sources.
To stay safe when buying medicines online, the MHRA advises that you purchase from a registered pharmacy – either from the premises or online. Registered online suppliers can be found here. If people suspect they have a dodgy medicine or medical device they can report if via our safety monitoring system - the Yellow Card Scheme.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau is also seeing reports from victims who have lost money when they have tried to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) or self-testing kits online, from fraudulent websites, that simply do not exist. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Notes to Editor
The #FakeMeds campaign is a public health campaign which aims to reduce the harm caused by purchasing fake, unlicensed or counterfeit medical products online. Previous phases of the campaign have focused on fake erectile dysfunction medicines, dodgy diet pills and fake self-testing STI kits. Follow #FakeMeds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the [Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD.)[https://www.cprd.com/]
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK. All our work is underpinned by robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks. It is also an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care.
The MHRA collaborates with Nominet the UK domain name registry and City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit to help combat illegal online activity in relation to COVID-19.
The NCA are investigating a number of reports of the sale of counterfeit products relating to COVID-19, and working with MHRA and others to understand the scale of the threat and protect the public.