The pharmacist drug dealers: This man sold us 60 Xanax tablets for £150 with no prescription - as investigation finds chemists are flooding the black market with pills aimed at youngsters

  • A Daily Mail investigation found chemists illegally selling highly addictive drugs
  • They can swiftly be sold on through social media to school pupils and students
  • Pharmacists are exploiting a trend among towards prescription-only drugs

Pharmacists acting like 'street drug dealers' are flooding the black market with potentially dangerous prescription drugs such as Xanax.

A Daily Mail investigation has uncovered evidence of chemists illegally selling highly addictive medication for cash without asking for prescriptions.

The drugs can then be swiftly sold on through social media to young people in schools and universities where they are increasingly being abused with devastating consequences.Suited, bespectacled and looking a little older than his 53 years, Anatolijus Kostiukevicius exudes the air of respectability you expect from a central London pharmacist.

He is approached by a stranger in his 20s asking for Xanax, the Class C controlled drug blighting the lives of teenagers across Britain. Immediately, it is apparent Mr Kostiukevicius is not as respectable as his appearance would suggest. 'Sixty tablets, £150,' he replies, without missing a beat

Pharmacists are exploiting a growing trend among young people for prescription-only drugs such as the strong benzodiazepines Xanax and diazepam and the opioid tramadol.

Drug dealers sell the Xanax tablets – which are used to treat anxiety – on social media for between £1 and £3 each.

One pharmacist in London sold hundreds of dangerous Class C controlled prescription drugs to an undercover Mail reporter for prices higher than those on the 'street'.

Another told a reporter in Manchester to buy the drugs – with side effects including hallucinations and heart failure – from the internet. He said they wouldn't be fake because 'people get them from the NHS and sell them on eBay.'

Despite breaking the law in supplying a controlled substance and breaching one of the fundamental tenets of pharmaceutical practice in supplying prescription-only drugs without a prescription, the pharmacist maintains a confusing professionalism, asking: 'Would you like a bag?'

Despite breaking the law in supplying a controlled substance and breaching one of the fundamental tenets of pharmaceutical practice in supplying prescription-only drugs without a prescription, the pharmacist maintains a confusing professionalism, asking: 'Would you like a bag?'

Two pharmacists have been struck off the pharmaceutical register this year for selling thousands of tablets to dealers. It can also be revealed:Eight pharmacists have been arrested, and at least 50 pharmacies have been investigated as part of an ongoing operation;

  • One drug dealer said he could obtain 280,000 diazepam tablets a week from the legitimate supply chain to sell to an undercover government investigator;
  • Three websites selling drugs stolen from pharmacies made £55 million in just 15 months.

After selling 60 Xanax tablets for £2.50 each and 100 tramadol capsules for £250 to a reporter at the Al Razi Pharmacy in London last month, a pharmacist acknowledged the prices were high 'because you need a prescription'.

Anatolijus Kostiukevicius then handed over a business card including a mobile phone number and bragged: 'If you need any medicines… call me any time.'

Selling Xanax and tramadol without a prescription is illegal, as both are Class C controlled drugs. Supplying Xanax carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

Young people who have become hooked on the pills for supposed feelings of relaxation describe horrific withdrawal symptoms when they try to come clean, including insomnia, tremors, vomiting and suicidal thoughts.

Xanax is often mixed with alcohol and cough syrup in a cocktail known as 'lean', which can cause heart failure and memory loss.

Julie Cooper, Labour's community health spokesman and a former pharmacy owner, said: 'These figures really are shocking. Obviously any pharmacists caught selling drugs in this way should be struck off. When these drugs find their way into the wrong hands they are very dangerous. Every step needs to be taken at every level to make sure this doesn't happen.

'Every decent pharmacist will want to get to the bottom of this issue because it could bring the whole profession into disrepute.' The Government's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority [MHRA] is working with the police to crack down on the diversion of drugs from the legitimate supply chain.

Some 41 people, including eight pharmacists have been arrested. Between 2013 and 2016, up to £200million of medication was diverted from pharmacies and other legitimate supply routes and released on to the criminal market.

UK Addiction Treatment Centres say admissions to their treatment facilities for Xanax addiction have doubled in the past year. Half of those seeking treatment are under the age of 25. Eytan Alexander, the centre's founder, said: 'The results of this investigation are absolutely appalling and those involved should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

'Pharmacists have a duty of care to ensure the safe and effective provision of medicine, but instead, they're abusing their position of power and mirroring the behaviour of street drug dealers.

'We help and treat the fallout of prescription drug street crime and if the actions of some pharmacists continues, this number will unfortunately continue to rise.'

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said the body was 'deeply concerned' over the findings. 'People are put at serious risk when supplied unlawfully with prescription-only medicines and the scale of these allegations is shocking.

'Any deliberate practice that could cause patient harm must be dealt with robustly and we would like to see this matter investigated as swiftly as possible by the relevant authorities.'

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said: 'We are working closely with the MHRA on a major ongoing investigation into the diversion of prescription medicines away from the normal supply chain.

'We would like to thank the Daily Mail for raising with us the concerns identified through their undercover investigation; this is particularly useful as we do not have legal powers to carry out our own undercover investigations. We will investigate these new concerns as a matter of urgency.'

Alastair Jeffrey, of the MHRA, said: 'The criminals involved are exploiting people when they are at their most vulnerable; their only interest is making money. Prescription-only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.'

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