Manchester alumnus imprisoned for distributing unlicensed medicines

Manchester alumnus imprisoned for distributing unlicensed medicines
credit: bbc

London (Parliament News) – A Manchester University graduate has been imprisoned for importing and selling illicit medicines on eBay and Amazon.

Antoine Christopher Kolias was convicted to three and a half years in prison. Kolias, 31, had a business administration degree from Manchester, Southwark Crown Court listened. He was prosecuted after an analysis by the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) criminal enforcement unit (CEU) discovered that he had been acting as a distributor for an established unlicensed drugs dealer, as well as running his own unlicensed company.

How Did Graduates Illegally Sell Drugs Online?

He had been dealing with sildenafil citrate, the energetic ingredient in Viagra, as well as the class C drugs tramadol, zopiclone and pregabalin. He had traded the products containing sildenafil on Amazon and eBay marketplaces, arguing that they were a “100% natural treatment” and “risk-free” remedy for erectile dysfunction. Kolias had designed and called his packaging, selling the products under his label names: Vital-X, VigoreX and Vowex.

What Illegal Activities Were Linked to Manchester Graduates?

He first came under scepticism when UK Border Force officers blocked several parcels while carrying out regular checks at airports and throughout the postal system. The MHRA’s criminal enforcement unit, which manages and analyses criminal intelligence to determine illegal activity involving medical products, established an investigation, codenamed Operation Bentley.

In October 2019, it explored two residential addresses and two warehouse facilities connected to Kolias in north London and Manchester. In London, CEU officers discovered 97,000 tablets, which included products marketed as remedies for erectile dysfunction, as well as tramadol and zopiclone.

How Was Unlicensed Drug Sale Operation Uncovered?

During a three-week inquiry in May, the jury listened that after appearing in court, and while he was on bail, Kolias re-appointed his unlicensed drugs business. UK Border Force officers thwarted four more parcels, which had been shipped from China and contained more than 170,000 doses in total, and had been predestined for his sister’s address.

The court heard that Kolias had employed a friend’s details to re-establish his Amazon sales platform, from which he marketed products containing sildenafil citrate, again utilising his branding in a product called Evoxa.

What Charges Did Antoine Kolias Face for Drug Sales?

Kolias was sentenced to 16 counts related to the distribution of illicit medicines between the summer of 2018 and October 2019 and between 2020 and 2021. These included being knowingly involved in the evasion of a proscription on the import of goods; importing a medicine from a state other than an EEA state, and custody of a class C drug with intent to supply.

After Kolias’s conviction, the MHRA published a warning about the techniques by which criminals trade medicines illegally online, occasionally using websites designed to mimic legitimate drugstores or retailers, and sometimes promoting via online marketplaces or social media sites.

“The MHRA urges the public to be careful when purchasing medicines online. Medicines are not ordinary customer goods and their sale and supply are tightly regulated,” a spokesperson stated. “Websites operating outside the lawful supply chain may seem tempting, for instance, offering a prescription drug without a prescription. Not only are these sites violating the law, they’re putting your health at risk

Massimiliano  Verde

Massimiliano Verde is a journalist at Parliament News, He is covering Society and Culture News. Boasting a Master's Degree in Political Science, stands as a prominent figure in the Italian cultural landscape. His presidency of the Neapolitan Academy, a scientifically and sociolinguistically renowned group, attests to his relentless dedication to safeguarding and promoting Neapolitan language and culture. His activism and profound expertise have propelled him into the role of interlocutor for UNESCO as part of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), a prestigious acknowledgment highlighting the significance of his efforts in preserving the linguistic and cultural diversity of our planet.

Verde's fervent passion for the history and culture of Southern Italy has driven him to immerse himself in research, resulting in numerous essays and articles that delve into the peculiarities and beauties of the region. His commitment extends beyond academia, manifesting in ongoing dissemination activities aimed at acquainting the general public with the rich cultural heritage of the South. His endeavors transcend national boundaries, as evidenced by his participation in international conferences and collaboration with various foreign institutions, rendering him an ambassador of Southern culture on the global stage and fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.