Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Authorities remove more than 3,200 listings of illegal health products from e-commerce sites

SINGAPORE – More than 3,200 listings of illicit health products on local e-commerce platforms have been removed by the authorities in a crackdown.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a statement on Tuesday (June 8) that the product listings were removed between January and May 2021.

The majority of listings taken down include prescription medicines for chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and for the management of cholesterol.

“These were often leftover or unused medicine prescribed for the individual. The sellers claimed that they were unaware that such products were prescription medicines that could only be prescribed by doctors,” said the authority, who added that many were first-time sellers.

HSA said it also removed listings of lifestyle health products such as weight loss pills, sexual enhancement medicines and cosmetic products for skin whitening, which were found by the authority to have been adulterated with medicinal ingredients or banned substances. Some of these listings were also removed following safety alerts by overseas regulators.

The sellers were issued warnings and reminded of the regulatory requirements that they have to comply with, said HSA.

About 700 of the 3,200 listings were removed during Operation Pangea, an annual international enforcement operation targeting the online sale of illicit pharmaceutical products coordinated by Interpol between May 18 and 25.

HSA said it intensified its online surveillance of local e-commerce platforms to detect and disrupt the sale of illegal health products during that week.

The authority’s enforcement on the ground also continued.

On May 18, HSA received information relating to two parcels from overseas that were suspected to contain medicines and medical devices.

Following an inspection of a place of residence, prescription medicines, including antibiotics, abortion tablets and oral contraceptives, and condoms were found in the unit.


Prescription medicines, including antibiotics, abortion tablets and oral contraceptives, and condoms were found in the unit. PHOTOS: HSA


More than 10,000 units of prescription medicines and medical devices intended for local online sale were seized. PHOTO: HSA

More than 10,000 units of prescription medicines and medical devices intended for local online sale were seized.

Investigations are still under way.

HSA urged the public to exercise caution when buying health products online and to buy them only from reputable retailers’ websites or those with an established retail presence in Singapore. Prescription medicines should be administered by a doctor.

The authority also reminded 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.


One of the product listings removed by HSA. HSA urged the public to exercise caution when buying health products online and to buy them only from reputable retailers’ websites or those with an established retail presence in Singapore. PHOTO: HSA

The sale of prescription medicines by individuals who do not hold the appropriate licence is an offence which carries a jail term up of up to two years, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

Supplying health products that are adulterated or carry misleading claims is also an offence. It carries with it a jail term of up to three years, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

Those who encounter illegal, counterfeit or other suspicious health products can contact the enforcement branch of HSA on 6866-3485 or email [email protected]

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