Selangor Journal

1,675 websites selling illegal pharmaceutical products blocked

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 27 — The authorities have blocked access to 1,675 websites selling illegal pharmaceutical products and confiscated various products worth more than RM500,000 through Operation Pangea XVI conducted across the country from October 3 to 10.

The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Pharmacy Services senior director Norhaliza A Halim said 76 per cent of the websites that were selling illegal pharmaceutical products were on e-commerce platforms.

“Complaints regarding all these links were sent to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the providers of social media and e-commerce platforms to block access to them and have the content taken down.

“There has been an increase in the sale of controlled drugs such as psychotropic substances, painkillers, antibiotics and cough medicine sold by unqualified or unauthorised sellers,” she said in a statement today.

Operation Pangea XVI, coordinated by Interpol, targets the online advertising, supply and sale of unregistered or counterfeit pharmaceutical products worldwide, and in Malaysia, it is coordinated by the MOH’s Pharmaceutical Enforcement Division.

Norhaliza said the operation in Malaysia, which had the cooperation of the National Central Bureau/Interpol Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and the Communications and Multimedia Commission, had seized 13,552 units of unregistered pharmaceutical products worth RM132,498 at all the country’s main entry points involving air cargo, airports, border posts and ferry terminals.

Cosmetics comprised the highest number of products seized at the borders this year with 2,359 units, followed by 2,243 units of products to treat gastric disease and 1,673 products with steroids, while 1,465 products with painkillers and 1,343 products with health supplements were confiscated at the country’s main entry points and mail distribution.

“The Pharmaceutical Enforcement Division also found that the trend of purchasing painkillers and health supplements from abroad is increasing yearly. Most of the seized pharmaceutical and cosmetic products are from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Japan and India,” she said.

In addition, a total of 96,691 illegal pharmaceutical products worth RM417,291 were seized in targeted raids on sellers and business premises.

“Also seized were traditional products that were falsely mixed with steroids, pain relievers and cough medicines that were not registered and sold by sellers who were not licensed and not authorised under the Poisons Act 1952,” she said, adding that a total of 12 investigation files were opened for further action.

Norhaliza said the Health Ministry was committed to ensuring the proper handling of the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as marketing, and broadcasting of advertisements in compliance with existing laws.

Operation Pangea XVI, was conducted worldwide from October 3 to 10, resulted in a total of 72 arrests, the seizure of pharmaceutical products worth more than US$7 million, the opening of 325 investigation files, and the closure of over 1,300 advertisement links.

— Bernama

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