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Conviction for internet drugs warning to others

Media Release

17 October 2001

Ministry says doctor's conviction for internet drug sales a warning to others

The Ministry of Health says New Zealand's first conviction of a doctor for selling drugs over the internet is a timely warning to anyone selling medicine online.

An Auckland man pleaded guilty to 17 charges of breaching the Medicines Act 1981 relating to the unauthorised sale of prescription medicines and inappropriate advertising of medicines via the internet. He was sentenced in Auckland District Court today to two months concurrent imprisonment on each charge. This was concurrent with a sentence on an unrelated charge.

Ministry of Health compliance team leader Peter Pratt said today's sentence reinforced the fact medical practitioners should only prescribe to people who were already their patients.

Mr Pratt said selling drugs over the internet was dangerous and posed serious risks for people purchasing the medicines.

"Selling medicines over the internet bypasses the safety barriers that have been put in place to protect the public.

"This is a timely warning to people selling drugs online that a breech of these safety measures simply will not be tolerated."

The charges were brought by the Ministry of Health under Sections 57, 20 and 18 of the Medicines Act 1981. They relate to the unauthorised sale of prescription medicines, publication of advertisements containing insufficient information about precautions and side effects, and advertising the availability of new medicines before their approval for use in New Zealand.

Under Section 20, the maximum penalty for an individual is up to six months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $20,000. The other sections have a maximum penalty for an individual of three months imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $500.

For more information contact: Anne-Marie Robinson, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2067 or 025-802 622 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

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