Gang selling abortion pills to foreigners busted

Misoprostol was previously registered with the health ministry as medicine for the treatment of ulcers or gastritis but the registration was cancelled in 2016 following the abuse of the drug for the purpose of inducing abortions. (Reuters pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya Health Department busted the sale of unregistered products containing the drug misoprostol which is used for abortions, in raids conducted on Tuesday and yesterday.

In a statement issued today, department director Dr Param Jeeth Singh said the activities of two individuals conducting the sale of the drug online and in making cash-on-deliveries, were traced by a team of 20 officers from the department’s pharmacy enforcement branch.

Another bust was conducted on two business premises, comprising a bag and clothing retailer, and a hair salon, located in a popular shopping mall.

The businesses were found to have been selling the drug to foreigners on the quiet.

The operation was followed by a raid on the private residence of the individual who owns both the businesses.

Enforcement officers discovered that the residence had been used to store several products containing the drug misoprostol.

The total number of pills seized was 1,430, with each pill selling at RM175.

Other unregistered drugs seized included antibiotics, anti-fungal medicines and health supplements, with all items worth a total of RM253,520.

Misoprostol was previously registered with the health ministry as a controlled medicine for the treatment of ulcers or gastritis but the registration was cancelled in 2016 following the abuse of the drug for the purpose of inducing abortions, the director explained.

Pregnant women should not take the drug without the supervision of registered medical practitioners as it can cause miscarriages, the birth of babies with deformities in cases where abortions are unsuccessful, the spread of bacteria, and even death in some cases, he added.

Side effects include diarrhoea, vomiting, abnormal bleeding and stomach ache.

The sale of an unregistered product is an offence under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, which provides for a maximum penalty of RM50,000 and five years of imprisonment.

To check the validity of the registration of products, visit http://www.npra.gov.my or download the NPRA Product Status application from Google Play Store.