January 27th 2014
Desperate girls and women can buy pregnancy termination drugs on the internet for as little as 78p, an investigation by the Daily Mirror has revealed.
The black market tablets are allegedly of a similar kind to those used by the NHS in abortions. However, if taken in the wrong dosage, they can be lethal to the expectant mother.
According to the newspaper, the pills are "flooding into the UK" from the far east, and being bought online mainly by teenage girls too scared to reveal to their parents they are pregnant.
Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) told the Mirror: “Online pills will be the back-street abortions of the 21st century.”
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is fighting a constant battle against the import and distribution of unauthorised medicines. MHRA Investigator Danny Lee-Frost said: “These are not the sort of thing a 14-year-old girl should be using when she is six months pregnant and too frightened to tell mum and dad or see a doctor. But after a pregnancy test from a chemist they don’t want to tell anyone. They look at options online and buy this stuff." Mr Lee continued: “Then it can go horribly wrong. The abortion pills can prove fatal. Thankfully we haven’t seen reports of such a death in the UK yet – but the evidence is growing overseas in places like China and the US." MHRA investigators worked with Suffolk Police last week and as a result of a raid, a 28 year-old from Ipswich was arrested on suspicion of selling counterfeit medicine.
This is the latest in a long series of incidences of investigations and ensuing raids by the MHRA in its attempts to defeat the trade in illegal medicines, whose effects can range from total ineffectiveness to ill-health and even death.