35. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the quantity and value of illegal steroids and illegal performance enhancing drugs that have been seized in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49785/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information relating to the quantity and value of drugs seized by An Garda Síochána is set out in their Annual Reports. The Annual Reports for the years 2007 to 2017 are available on the Garda website (www.garda.ie). The information provided in the Annual Reports is prepared on the basis of records maintained by Forensic Science Ireland based on the quantity of drugs analysed annually at its laboratory.
With regard to the specific details sought by the Deputy in relation to seizures in 2018, I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to this matter and I will further advise in this regard when the report is to hand.
As indicated in my reply to a similar question in July this year, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is the Competent Authority for the implementation of EU and national legislation relating to medicines in Ireland. The role of the Authority, which comes under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Health, includes monitoring and inspecting products on the market to ensure their safety, efficacy and legality. One of HPRA’s roles is to investigate potential breaches of legislation and where necessary to take corrective action including legal proceedings. The focus of the HPRA, when investigating breaches of the legislation relating to medicines, is on the supplier.
I am informed that prosecutions have been initiated by the HPRA in relation to the unauthorised supply of anabolic steroid containing medicines. These prosecutions have included the offences of manufacturing, advertising and supply without prescription to individuals and for wholesale supply. If any person is offering, facilitating the supply of, or supplying anabolic steroid containing medicines in breach of the legislation, they risk investigation by the HPRA and may face enforcement actions up to and including prosecution.
The Department of Health has advised that in 2017, the HPRA detained 449,411 anabolic steroid dosage units (tablets, capsules, vials, etc.), compared to 109,006 units detained in 2016. This reflects the impact of intelligence-led enforcement activity by the HPRA, acting in conjunction and in cooperation with Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána in such enforcement actions.
The Deputy may also wish to be aware of the recently launched public information campaign by the HPRA called ‘Zero Gains’, which is targeted at young men to raise awareness of the potentially serious side effects and health risks of using unprescribed anabolic steroids.