Welcome to the Internet, where you can find anything and everything online as long as you can sift through shady deals and rampant misinformation.
Well, unfortunately for those who did not grow up with the world wide web, this can be pretty tough. We do need the help of the authorities to weed out malicious products, if not, they’ll basically take over Shopee and Lazada.
In just five months, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has removed 3,200 product listings from local e-commerce platforms from January to May 2021.
According to the authority’s press release, 700 of them were removed during Operation Pangea, an enforcement operation targeting the online sale of illicit pharmaceutical products coordinated by INTERPOL between 18 and 25 May 2021.
In fact, HSA has intensified its online surveillance of local e-commerce platforms this week in order to detect and disrupt the online sales of illegal health products.
It noted that the majority of product listings taken down were prescription medicines for chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and for the management of cholesterol.
Why the need to do so?
These prescribed medications were often leftover or unused medicine given to the individual.
“The sellers claimed that they were unaware that such products were prescription medicines that could only be prescribed by doctors. Many of them were first-time sellers,” HSA said.
In addition, lifestyle health products such as weight loss pills, sexual enhancement medicines and cosmetic products for skin whitening were also removed.
The authority had tested them and found them to be “adulterated” with medicinal ingredients or banned substances, or from safety alerts by overseas regulators. Sound familiar?
HSA has issued these sellers warnings and has reminded them of the regulatory requirements that they are to abide by.
Parcels Seized From Household; Intended to Sell Prescription Medicine
On the ground enforcement efforts were continued by HSA, having received information about two parcels suspected to contain medicines and medical devices on 18 May.
It inspected a local residential unit, uncovering prescription medicines like antibiotics, abortion tablets, oral contraceptives and condoms in the flat.
“More than 10,000 units of prescription medicines and medical devices intended for local online sale were seized. Investigations are ongoing,” it said.
Advisory to Consumers and Sellers
The authority urged the public to be more cautious when buying health products online, despite their more competitive prices. Oftentimes, the lower prices are due to unsafe ingredients, poor manufacturing methods and substandard or unhygienic storage conditions.
Consumers should also be wary of products that promise quick results or carry exaggerated claims.
Ultimately, they should buy them from reputable retailers’ websites and only get prescription medicine from a doctor.
As for sellers of such unreliable products, HSA warns that they take the issue very seriously
“HSA would like to remind members of the public that they should not sell prescription medicines as these are potent products that can cause serious side effects when used without appropriate medical supervision. Only qualified persons with an appropriate licence are allowed to sell such products.”
For members of the public who attempt to sell prescription medicines without an appropriate license, they may be imprisoned for up to 2 years and/or fined up to S$50,000.
Anyone who supplies such health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or fined up to S$100,000.
Members of the public who encounter illegal, counterfeit or other suspicious health products are encouraged to contact the Enforcement Branch of HSA at 68663485 or email them at [email protected]
Featured Image: HSA