PUTRAJAYA: The authorities have blocked access to 1,675 websites selling illegal pharmaceutical products and confiscated various products worth more than RM500,000 through Operation Pangea XVI conducted nationwide from Oct 3 to Oct 10.
The health ministry’s pharmacy services senior director Norhaliza A Halim said 76% of the websites detected selling illegal pharmaceutical products were doing so through e-commerce platforms.
“Complaints regarding all these links were sent to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), as well as the social media and e-commerce platform providers to block access to the sites and have the content taken down.
“There has been an increase in the sale of controlled drugs such as psychotropic substances, painkillers, antibiotics and cough medicine by unqualified or unauthorised sellers,” she said in a statement today.
Operation Pangea XVI, jointly coordinated by Interpol and the health ministry’s pharmaceutical enforcement division, targeted the online advertising, supply and sale of unregistered or counterfeit pharmaceutical products.
Norhaliza said the operation in Malaysia, conducted with the help of the customs department and MCMC, resulted in the seizure of 13,552 units of unregistered pharmaceutical products valued at RM132,498 across the nation’s primary entry points, including air cargo terminals, airports, border posts and ferry terminals.
Cosmetics accounted for the highest number of products seized at the borders this year, totalling 2,359 units. This was followed by products for treating gastric disease (2,243 units) and steroids (1,673 units).
Meanwhile, 1,465 units of painkiller medicine and 1,343 units of health supplements were confiscated at the country’s main entry points and mail distribution centres.
“The pharmaceutical enforcement division also found that the trend of purchasing painkillers and health supplements from abroad is increasing yearly. Most of the seized pharmaceutical and cosmetic products are from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Japan and India,” she said.
Separately, she said 96,691 illegal pharmaceutical products worth RM417,291 were seized in targeted raids on sellers and business premises.
“Also seized were traditional products that were falsely mixed with steroids, pain relievers and cough medicines. These were not registered and sold by sellers who were not licensed or authorised under the Poisons Act 1952.”
She said 12 investigation files were opened for further action.
In total, Operation Pangea XVI resulted in 72 arrests, the seizure of pharmaceutical products worth more than US$7 million (RM32.4 million), the opening of 325 investigation files, and over 1,300 advertisement links being taken down.