Companies using ‘bombastic testimonials’ online to sell unregistered drugs

06 Nov 2019 / 09:22 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of the public are influenced to buy unregistered drugs online, especially through Facebook and Instagram because of their advertisements, mostly with “bombastic” testimonials.

The Health Ministry’s Pharmacy Enforcement Division senior principal assistant director (Advertisement Control Branch) Normawati Mohamed Noor said the increasingly sophisticated advertising techniques also contributed to the online sales of the drugs.

“Phrases like one drug tablet can cure all ailments, the use of before and after pictures and a money-back guarantee are often used in drug advertisements.

“However, not many people are aware of the risks they face with such advertisements, like being exposed to products with scheduled poison,” she said when appearing as a guest on Bernama Radio last night to talk on Ubat dalam Talian #biarbetuliklanni.

She said through the #biarbetul advertisement campaign, the ministry hoped the public would be more careful when buying drugs online.

“Therefore, buyers are advised to always check the registration numbers and approvals given by the Health Ministry for online drug advertisements.

“This is important because consumers are not faced only with the risks of the side effects of the unregistered drugs, but it will also make it difficult for them to make any claims, if anything happens, because information on the drugs and the traders are not displayed accurately,“ she said.

She said the public could check for the information at the ministry’s official website or by downloading the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) product status application.

“Basically, every drug product on sale has to display the approval from the Drug Advertising Board (LIU) and has a registration number from the ministry, which starts with MAL followed by eight digits and a specific code whereby these codes will determine the platforms for the sales of the products, for example, only through prescriptions provided by medical officers,” she added.

Normawati said if there were “superlative words” like the number one in the world or could cure all illnesses in the advertisements, they would not be approved by LIU.

“In fact, the ministry has listed 20 non-communicable diseases that cannot be advertised, such as cancer, diabetes and eye-related diseases. So, this can be the basis for consumers in identifying products that are given approval,” she added.

On enforcement by the ministry and related agencies to stop the dissemination of advertisements on an unregistered drug, Normawati said that so far over 500 advertisements had been blocked and referred to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). — Bernama

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