By Barney Calman Health Editor For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 22:00 BST, 15 June 2019 | Updated: 22:20 BST, 15 June 2019
Thousands of NHS patients may have taken pills that have been tampered with by criminal gangs linked to the Italian mafia.
Treatments for prostate cancer and epilepsy are among commonly prescribed medicines that were stolen from Italian hospitals and sold to unwitting UK pharmacies.
The Government's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was alerted in August 2014 that contraband pills were circulating in the NHS system – yet failed to alert the public.
An internal investigation was made a priority last night to discover how the MHRA allowed the tablets to be handed to patients, despite being made aware of the concerns.
Thousands of NHS patients may have taken pills that have been tampered with by criminal gangs linked to the Italian mafia (stock image)
Italian Medicines Agency documents show that scores of other tainted medicines, including statins and pills for Parkinson's disease, have been shipped to Britain.
Health chiefs admit there is now 'no trace' of them, or a record of who they were prescribed to.
Even if the drugs are genuine, once removed from the official supply system they are deemed legally unsafe.
Trident Pharmaceuticals, which supplies Lloyds Pharmacy's 1,500 pharmacies in the UK, is understood from paperwork from the Italian authorities to be one of the biggest purchasers of the stolen drugs, having bought them from legitimate suppliers.
In a statement last