Over 200,000 illegal prescription medicines have been seized during a recent operation by authorities in Ireland, mainly targeting online sales.

The medicines are valued at over €850,000 and include large quantities of anabolic steroids, sedatives, and painkillers.

Other products confiscated included stimulants, injectable tanning products, and insulin capsules.

The number of medicines is over three times that seized in a similar operation last year.

This week-long operation resulted in two arrests and eight social media pages being taken down.

The main countries of origin for the products were India, China, Latvia, UK, Moldova, Cameroon, Pakistan, and the US.

The drugs were secured in an operation which involved the Health Products Regulatory Authority, the Revenue's Customs Service and An Garda Síochána.

It was part of a Europe-wide Interpol-coordinated project called Pangea X, which has run each year since 2008.

The mail order of prescription medicines, including internet supply, is prohibited in Ireland.

No internet pharmacy authorised in another country is permitted to supply prescription medicines to consumers in Ireland.

Dr Lorraine Nolan, chief executive of the Health Products Regulatory Authority, said there had been a substantial increase in the volume of product detained.

She said these prescription medicines pose a serious health risk, as there is no guarantee what the 'medicines' contain or under what conditions they have been made.

The assistance of social media, technology companies, the electronic payments sector and the pharmaceutical industry, have contributed to the increase in seizures, according to authorities.

Minister for Health Simon Harris this afternoon said that the cost of prescription medicines is an issue that needs to be addressed and the Government is conscious of it.

However, he said it was no excuse for people going online and procuring illegal medicines that could damage them, or their loved ones.