KUALA LUMPUR: Sales of illegal and unregistered medicines have increased by high demand for “Covid-19 cure” from online consumers.
In a press statement via KPKesihatan.com, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry received 38 complaints on the sale of pharmaceutical products which could supposedly cure Covid-19 throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
“This scenario (pandemic) has provided an opportunity for cybercriminals and scammers to take advantage of consumers.
“We identified and blocked 182 websites selling unregistered drugs for Covid-19 and issued 556 notices to e-marketplaces to curb the sale of unregistered medical products,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry also seized more than one million units of unregistered medicines worth RM2.55 million in an operation named as Op Pangea XIII with the assistance of Interpol.
The operation carried out from March 3 to 10 also identified 347 personal websites, 360 social media accounts, and 585 e-marketplace links found selling unregistered drugs.
A total of 853 parcels were also inspected where 79 were seized as they contained unregistered pharmaceutical products,” he said
He added the ministry also seized 23,278 illegal pharmaceutical products worth more than RM600,000 during raids on 50 unlicensed premises.
Op Pangea XIII which had entered its eighth operation this year, was carried out with the cooperation from his ministry, Customs Department, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Pos Malaysia, and e-marketplace platform.
The operation was coordinated by the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) with the police, customs, and health authorities from 90 countries.
“In this international operation, low-quality masks and hand sanitizers, illegal antivirus and dangerous drugs worth more than USD14 million were seized by the authorities.
“This year’s operation saw an approximate 18 percent increase in unauthorised antivirus drug seizures, and more than 100 per cent increase in unauthorised hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine seizures, also associated with the Covid-19 outbreak,” he added.