By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
Citing possible health risks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered on-line platforms Lazada and Shoppee Philippines to stop selling medicine on-line until they secure proper authority.
The FDA said that it also served “summons with preventive measure order” to Lazada and Shopee, directing them to immediately cease and desist from further on-line selling and offering for sale drug products until they secured the appropriate license to operate” from the Agency.
“The FDA is adamant in implementing the law in order to ensure the safety of the Filipino people and the general public as a whole.”
It warned Lazada and Shopee that they could be cited for “direct or indirect contempt and/or other administrative sanctions” should they fail to comply with the cease and desist order.
The public was also reminded by the FDA to “exercise extreme caution” and to avoid purchasing and consuming health products that are offered on-line.
“Buying medicine on-line places “the lives of the general public in danger and at risk,” noted the FDA, an agency attached to the Department of Health.
The FDA advisory also cautioned that medicine bought on-line may contain no active ingredient, too much or too little active ingredients which may result to improper or inadequate treatment.
“Also, these medicines may not be stored correctly in accordance with its appropriate storage conditions,” also warned the FDA..
In the same advisory, the FDA said that on-line selling of medicine is not allowed in the Philippines pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.
“FDA only allows on-line ordering services provided that the seller has an existing FDA-licensed Pharmacy or Botika with physical address.
On-line ordering services are additional activities of a Pharmacy or Botika subject for approval of FDA,” it said.
The Agency urged the public to report the unauthorized sale of drug products to firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.fda.gov.ph/ereport. The public may also call (02) 809-5596.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, Acting FDA chairman related that aside from Lazada and Shopee, they had also summoned officials of a pharmacy in Iloilo after receiving reports that they had been selling medicine over the internet without the necessary permit.
He said the three firms had to explain to the DoH why they should not be penalized.
“The buying of medicine is prohibited because there is no guarantee as to their source. We also do not know the quality of these medicine,” said Domingo.
He also said pharmaceutical products are regulated and only entities with an actual pharmacy to which had been issued a license may sell medicine. He said some of the sites sold steroids for weight gain.
“Steroids have many side effects. It might adversely affect the bones. One can be hypertensive. One can have diabetes. One can have cataract. One can suffer stroke, “ stressed Domingo.
If a pharmacy was issued a license to take orders on-line, he said it still could not deliver the medicine to its customers.
“Before one can get the medicine, he needs to personaly go to a pharmacy and show the doctor’s prescription, said Domingo.
If the three are found to be involved in the illegal sale of medicine, Domingo said, “then, of course we will file cases against companies that sell drugs without a license.”
As of the latest monitoring, Domingo said the three sites had taken down their advertisements for the on-line sale of medicine.
In a statement, Lazada assured that a response to the complaint raised by the FDA will be available and that the firm will cooperate with the authorities.
Lazada also vowed to investigate and to take appropriate actions in accordance with laws, regulations, and/or issuances, and the contract the merchants.
“Merchants who sell on the Lazada platform are contractually obligated to be fully compliant with relevant and applicable local laws, regulations, and/or issuances,” the company said.