A codeine addict who contaminated packets of Nurofen Plus to fund his habit is due to be sentenced.
Christopher McGuire saved himself just £7 by placing strips of an anti-psychotic drug in empty packets of the painkiller and swapping them for new packets at pharmacies.
By asking for Nurofen Plus at the counter and then trying to pay with a card he knew would be declined, he created sufficient distraction to discreetly swap the contaminated packet for the fresh one and walk away.
His actions cost manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser £2.4m when the painkiller was recalled.
McGuire, who went to university at the age of 16, took 32 tablets of the drug each day to feed his secret addiction. But after losing his job, he struggled to pay for it.
Instead, the 31-year-old replaced empty packets with the Seroquel he was being prescribed for his schizophrenia, and the contaminated packs ended up in the hands of unsuspecting members of the public.
Two men, Peter Letham and Paul Connor, took the anti-psychotic drugs in error, believing them to be Nurofen Plus, and were left feeling unwell.
Mr Letham and Mr Connor swallowed the wrong tablets after Mr Letham's wife, Jacqueline, bought what she thought was a 32-pack of Nurofen Plus from a branch of Boots pharmacy in The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley, south-east London on August 21 last year.
The next day Mr Letham, who was employed on a building site, took the packet to work. There he took three tablets and gave two to his colleague Mr Connor who was suffering neck pain.
Both men soon began to feel unwell, experiencing tiredness and dizziness. They later discovered the drug inside the packet was in fact Seroquel instead of Nurofen Plus.
On July 24 and July 28 last year two other consumers realised the Nurofen Plus they had bought also contained Seroquel instead but did not swallow any.
The first incident occurred when a woman bought a 32-pack from a Boots pharmacy in London's Victoria station and the second when a man bought a 32-pack in a branch of Boots in Beckenham High Street in south-east London.
In a fourth incident, an assistant at a Beckenham pharmacy found Seroquel tablets inside a Nurofen Plus packet in the store.
McGuire, of Edzell Drive in Glasgow, was tracked down to his landlady's home in Swanley, Kent on September 23 after the origins of the Seroquel were traced, and he admitted his actions.
He told police he felt "terrified" after the health scare hit the headlines, "not knowing what to do or who to speak to," prosecutor Alexandra Felix said.
"He did nothing, hoping the matter would resolve itself," she said.
"He said he hoped people would notice and return the items to the store. He didn't think about the consequences of his actions or the effect on members of the public.
"He apologised to those who had bought the contaminated medicine."
Southwark Crown Court heard an overdose of Seroquel can cause coma, tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and hypertension (high blood pressure).
McGuire will be sentenced at the court later on Monday.
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