Furore online over abortion pill sales

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry received 51 complaints on online sales of abortion pills in 2018 and 2019, which could be abused for illegal abortions.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said 24 raids targeting the product were conducted from 2016 to 2019 involving seizures worth RM95,233.

“At least 302 websites were found violating ministry regulations and from the total, 98 websites were sent to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to be blocked, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the ministry, via the Pharmacy Enforcement Division, sent notifications to Malaysia-based e-commerce platforms to take down ads for the pills.

“The ministry will also cooperate with postal and courier service companies to block the purchase of such pills online or smuggling from overseas, ” he said.

The ministry, he said, viewed the matter seriously as the use of abortion pills such as misoprostol and mifepristone without proper medical supervision can result in potentially lethal uterine rupture, heavy bleeding and infection.

Dr Noor Hisham said taking abortion pills could also cause birth defects if the termination of pregnancy is not successful.

“Misoprostol has its product registration cancelled with the Drug Control Authority in November 2016 and is therefore not allowed to be sold in Malaysia.

“However, it is frequently abused without doctor’s supervision to terminate pregnancy, ” he said.

The sales of unregistered products are in violation of Regulation 7(1) (a) of the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984 and an offence under Regulation 30 (1). Offenders can be sentenced under Section 12 (1) of the Sales of Drugs Act 1952. — Bernama

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