On­line sales of medicines be­ing tar­geted

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - MIKE HOULAHAN Health re­porter mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

GOV­ERN­MENT medicines reg­u­la­tor Med­safe is mov­ing to curb the sale of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs pri­vately via so­cial me­dia.

Con­cerned by the sale of drugs and med­i­cal de­vices from sites such as Face­book, Med­safe this week warned it was only le­gal to sell or give away phar­macy­only medicines if au­tho­rised to do so un­der the Medicines Act.

Med­safe worked closely with po­lice and Cus­toms to mon­i­tor pos­si­ble il­le­gal ad­ver­tis­ing and sale of medicines.

Last year, a Christchurch man was jailed for two years for il­le­gally sell­ing per­for­manceen­hanc­ing drugs and beauty prod­ucts on­line.

‘‘Prod­ucts ob­tained this way have no qual­ity, safety or ef­fi­cacy guar­an­tee,’’ Med­safe com­pli­ance man­ager Derek Fitzger­ald said.

‘‘They may not have not been ap­proved for sup­ply in New Zealand, they may not have come from a reg­u­lated mar­ket, they may not come from where they ap­pear to, they may be of poor qual­ity or con­tam­i­nated.’’

Apart from con­cerns about the qual­ity of medicines, pre­scrip­tion­only prod­ucts were pro­vided to pa­tients in cer­tain dosages and amounts and buy­ing on­line could re­sult in pa­tients tak­ing drugs with too much or too lit­tle ac­tive ma­te­rial, he said.

‘‘It is im­por­tant for the in­tended pur­chaser to be un­der the care of a health­care pro­fes­sional —for in­stance a doc­tor — to en­sure the medicine or med­i­cal de­vice is ap­pro­pri­ate and that the pur­chaser has ad­e­quate on­go­ing care.’’

Any med­i­cal de­vice for sale in New Zealand had to be no­ti­fied to a data­base ac­cessed through Med­safe, and the seller needed to en­sure it was of ac­cept­able qual­ity, safe, and fit for pur­pose.

‘‘There are par­tic­u­lar haz­ards in us­ing sec­ond­hand de­vices, as these may be con­tam­i­nated, faulty or un­fit for pur­pose.’’

For the past decade, New Zealand and 123 other coun­tries have taken part in an ex­er­cise tar­get­ing il­licit phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs.

The lat­est op­er­a­tion re­sulted in 426 pack­ages be­ing held for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, 253 more than last year.

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