Health DG: Over RM2.2mil in unapproved Covid-19 meds, products seized in Interpol-led crackdown, 2,600 websites flagged in M'sia

PETALING JAYA: A total of 2, 600 websites were found to be selling pharmaceutical products illegally, while 9, 115 units of unregistered pharmaceutical products in 167 postal parcels were confiscated during Operation Pangea XIV last month, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said Operation Pangea is a global effort coordinated by Interpol which focuses on websites and social media accounts offering dangerous drugs and medical devices.

Operation Pangea XIV, which started from May 18 to 25, is Malaysia's ninth participation since it began.

"This year, the focus was on the sale of drugs and medical devices misused for the purpose of Covid-19 treatment," he said, adding that irresponsible sellers continue to take advantage by making a profit to sell "protective" products for the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dr Noor Hisham said action had been taken against a total of 2, 600 websites, including from the Dark Web which were detected to be selling pharmaceutical products that violated the provisions of the law, which includes controlled drugs purportedly for the treatment of Covid-19, as well as unlicensed face masks, thermometers, test-kits for Covid-19, nasal aspirators and alcohol swabs.

He added that there is an increasing trend of the sale of psychotropic substances by unauthorized sellers on the same platforms.

"A total of 972 postal parcels were also inspected. Of the total, 157 postal parcels found to contain 9, 115 units of unregistered pharmaceutical products valued at RM108, 352," he said, noting that over 60% of the products seized this year were controlled drugs under the Poisons Act 1952.

Dr Noor Hisham said 18% of the controlled drugs seized were under the category of psychotropic substances, while the rest were high blood pressure medications, diabetic medication, abortion pills, anti-inflammatory drugs and others that are mostly not registered with the Health Ministry.

"Inspections were also carried out at all major entrances across the country involving air cargo, airports, border posts and ferry terminals. A total of 961 units of unregistered medicines were confiscated with a value of RM42, 213," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham noted that during a raid involving 94 business premises, 61, 864 units of illegal pharmaceutical products, including unregistered psychotropic substances valued at RM 2, 071, 855 were seized.

"A total of 206 consumer awareness campaigns were also conducted during the Operation Pangea XIV," he said, adding that the Health Ministry will continue to monitor websites and social media accounts selling pharmaceutical products and medical devices online.

Dr Noor Hisham said the public are advised to ensure that health products sold either online or on-premises have a hologram security sticker and product registration number before purchasing the product.

The public can check the product registration status by visiting the website in the "Product Status" column or download the NPRA Product Status app from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store or Huawei AppGallery.

Operation Pangea XIV involves collaboration between several agencies in the Health Ministry and other agencies such as Interpol Malaysia's National Central Bureau, Customs Department, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Pos Malaysia, and CyberSecurity Malaysia.

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