KUALA LUMPUR: The level of public awareness on the use of unregistered medicines and health products is still poor despite various effort taken by the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in addressing the issue.

Some NGOs have even expressed concerns over the trend, as the purchase of such medicines have been made easy through social networking sites and have captured the attention of many consumers, especially those with a poor understanding of its risks.

Pertubuhan Mesra Pengguna Malaysia (PMPM) deputy president Azlin Othman said potential buyers could be easily deceived by customer testimonials placed in the advertisement of the unregistered health products.

“When they read customer testimonials claiming that the medicines had helped some of them recovered from a certain illness, the potential buyers would be tempted to believe and purchase the medicines without verifying the information.

“Unregistered medicines can have many adverse effects on consumers, such as kidney or internal organ failure because they might contain prohibited substances that can endanger the health of consumers and inappropriate dosage (of the substances) during the formulating of the product,“ she told Bernama here today.

Hence, Azlin advised consumers to be more alert of the issue and always run a quick check of the products’ label for security features such as MAL registration number and MeditagTM holographic sticker as well as Notification Numbers (NOT).

“We still believe there are many products in the market that are neither tested nor registered with the Ministry of Health,“ she said.

Meanwhile, according to the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, each person has a different immune system level, hence consumers should not easily be influenced by customer testimonials in the product’s advertisement.

“The (unregistered) medicine might work on certain people, but not to everyone, it could create many problems for those with a different set of immune system. The best way is to always seek doctor’s opinion,“ he said.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) chief activist, Datuk Nadzim Johan, on the other hand, called for the Ministry of Health to set up a special unit to monitor and facilitate founders of effective medicines to register their products.

“The unit should look into every aspect. If the product is good and effective, we must provide swift assistance to prevent them from violating any laws. We must move progressively,“ he added. — Bernama