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Crackdown needed on questionable online medicines

Rachel Soon
Medical Writer
01 Mar 2018

Unregulated online sales of products containing controlled medicines must be curbed in the name of consumer safety, warns the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS).

Under Sections 13 and 21 of the Poisons Act 1952, it is illegal for anyone other than a licenced pharmacist/medical practitioner to sell or supply any Group B scheduled poison without a valid prescription. First-time offenders may receive a fine of up to RM 3000 or 1 year’s imprisonment.

Yet, according to the MPS, preparations containing scheduled Group B poisons such as tadalafil and isotretinoin are available for purchase on multiple internet platforms, often without needing a verified prescription. Other controlled medicines available from those platforms include numerous Group C items such as cough medicines and antihistamines.

“Medicines should only be sold by a licensed pharmacist with a valid prescription, or dispensed by a medical practitioner for treatment purposes for their own patients only,” said Tuan Haji Amrahi, president of the MPS. “[We have received] numerous complaints from MPS members and the general public alike as the question of authenticity of online medication is raised. […] Chances are these medicines have been tampered or tainted with impurities and microorganisms which pose as a serious threat to the consumer’s health.”

The presence of controlled substances even in unregistered herbal products sold on the market was highlighted in a recent chemical analysis of 51 samples thereof seized by Malaysian law enforcement. While the product packaging claimed that the contents consisted only of natural ingredients, synthetic PDE-5 inhibitors such as sildenafil and tadalafil were isolated from some products in concentrations of up to 85.49 mg/g (tadalafil) and 275.6 mg/g (sildenafil). [Der Pharma Chem 2013;5(2):278–285]

According to Amrahi, consumers should be encouraged to buy from community pharmacies as their products were unlikely to be counterfeited. Members of the public experiencing adverse effects from medicines purchased online could be directed to make a report with the NPRA’s online channels.

“Pharmacists should also report to the authorities [and the MPS] if [unregulated products] are found in social media,” he added.

In 2016, it was reported that a total of 1396 raids were conducted by the Pharmacy Enforcement Department under the Ministry of Health, with 1329 cases prosecuted in court and illegal products worth up to RM 47.8 million confiscated.

 

To report websites offering medicines without prescription, you may contact:

Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society: mps.online@gmail.com | (03) 8079 1861

NPRA Product Complaint Unit: http://npra.moh.gov.my/index.php/adr-reporting | (03) 7883 5549

Pharmacy Enforcement Division Branch Offices by state:

State

Phone

Email

Kedah

(04) 774 1000

farmasikdh@kdh.moh.gov.my

Kelantan

(09) 773 0586

efarmasi@klt.moh.gov.my

Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya

(03) 2884 0701

aduanfarmasi@moh.gov.my

Johor

(07) 227 2800

farmasijb@moh.gov.my

Labuan

(087) 411 416

farmasi_jkwpl@lbn.moh.gov.my

Melaka

(06) 234 5979

jkesihatan@moh.gov.my

Negri Sembilan

(06) 766 4800

 

Pahang

(09) 570 7737

 

Penang

(04) 229 2319

 

Perak

(05) 533 7318

farmasiperak@moh.gov.my

Perlis

(04) 976 5033

 

Sabah

(088) 257 258

 

Sarawak

(082) 473 348

cpfsrwk@srwk.moh.gov.my

Selangor

(03) 5510 1051

 

Terengganu

(09) 622 2627

 

 

 

 

 

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Most Read Articles
4 days ago
Higher intake levels of coffee appear to be associated with reduced risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.
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2 days ago
Treatment with danegaptide does not improve myocardial salvage in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) undergoing primary percutaneous coronary intervention, according to the results of a phase II study.
Yesterday
Men with high levels of exposure to diesel exhaust are at greater risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (AML), as shown in a recent study. This is not true for women.