Cracking down on Covid-19 ‘cures’

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PETALING JAYA: All kinds of dubious advertisements touting miracle products to prevent or treat Covid-19 have mushroomed, mostly being peddled online, warned the Pharmacy Enforcement Division.

From March 2020 until April this year, the division found 1,109 advertisements containing false claims to treat or prevent Covid-19 and took them down.

“Managers of e-commerce platforms were given a notice to take down such advertisements.

“The products that were linked to false claims of preventing and treating Covid-19 include unregistered products such as health tags, supplements, soaps and hand sanitiser.

“The URLs (web links) of these advertisements were blocked and its contents had to be removed so that it cannot be accessed by Malaysians.

“These ads were found to be violating the Medicines (Advertisement & Sale) Act and the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984,” it said in a statement to The Star.

It, however, said that as of May, they had not found any online advertisements for fake Covid-19 “vaccines”, though they found some allegedly up for sale on the dark web.

(The dark web is a part of the Internet that is accessible only through special networks, allowing its users and operators to remain anonymous.)

The Pharmacy Enforcement Division, which is under the Health Ministry, said that screening activities for such advertisements are being carried out on local e-commerce platforms continuously and at random.

“The division is taking proactive steps to protect the public from being deceived and buying health products with various claims that are not supported with legitimate research and which have not gotten approval from the Medicine Advertisements Board,” it said.

It added that the Health Ministry is collaborating with e-commerce platforms, social media platforms and web-based service providers in and out of Malaysia in order to prevent ads with unapproved pharmaceutical products.

“From the Health Ministry’s side, we are ready to give the latest information to support their actions combating the sale of pharmaceutical products that violate the law.

“This includes all the information on illegal pharmaceutical products, relevant keywords, list of sellers and their latest modus operandi peddling such ‘products’.

“Besides that, routine monitoring of websites, social media and other digital platforms – including e-commerce ads and the online sale of prohibited medicines – is being done by trained pharmacy enforcement officials.

“As such, it would be difficult for any party to sell fake ‘vaccines’ on websites in Malaysia. Even so, our monitoring activities have found such fake ‘vaccines’ being peddled on the dark web,” it said.

The Pharmacy Enforcement Division advised people to be careful when buying any health products online, urging them to check a health product’s registration status or a cosmetic product’s notification status on https://www.npra.gov.my or 03-7883 5400. Any complaints or information on the sale of dubious health or cosmetic products can be directed to https://moh.spab.gov.my or 03-7841 3200.



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