PEKAN: The Health Ministry is constantly monitoring the situation to ensure that prescription drugs are not sold through the internet.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is actively monitoring of drugs being sold to Malaysians.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation. Drugs that are brought in (to Malaysia) must be registered with the government,” he said.

“We check all the medicines before they can be registered,” he said.

He was commenting on the issue of prescription drugs being sold on the internet, which was raised by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (PMS) recently.

In an exclusive report by the New Sunday Times, PMS president Amrahi Buang warned about the mushrooming of online pharmacist stores.

He claimed that these online pharmacy stores may be selling medications without license, and that the authenticity of the medicine offered is doubtful.

According to Section 21 of the Poisons Act 1952, only registered medical practitioners, dentists, veterinary officers, and pharmacies can sell prescription drugs to a person who was prescribed the medicine.

Under Section 13 of the Act, it is against the law to sell or supply medicine without a licence. A seller can be fined up to RM3,000 or receive one-year imprisonment for the first offence.

Dr Hilmi was speaking to the media at an event where 300 trainee nurses visited and provided medical checks to the Orang Asli of Runchang here.

Also present at the event was Bebar assemblyman Datuk Mohamad Fakhruddin Mohd Ariff.

Dr Hilmi reminded consumers to always check with the NPRA on the validity of health supplements and beauty products before purchasing them online.

“At times, they (online sellers) go overboard (in claims on efficacy of health products via online advertisement). They must follow due process,” he said.

Dr Hilmi said that the ministry constantly carry out random tests on health products sold in the market to ensure they do not contain harmful ingredients, among others.

In regards to the Sarawak case of a 59-year-old man whose rabies infection was not referred by the private clinic to a government-run health clinic or hospital, Dr Hilmi urged medical practitioners to abide by the standard operating procedure (SOP) in this issue.

“They (private clinics) must report such (rabies) cases to government hospitals in accordance with due process and regulation,” he said.

He also advised people bitten by animals to immediately seek treatment at government-run clinics and hospitals.

“Dogs are not the only animals that can carry rabies,” he said in reference to other potential rabies carriers like cats.

On Nov 27 last year, the man from Jalan Batu Kawa-Matang was bitten by a dog, and had sought treatment from a private clinic on the same day.

However, the private clinic did not report his case to a government-run hospital or clinic.

The man began developing body aches and weakness in both legs, before he was admitted at a private hospital on Jan 24.

His case was referred to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) the following day.

He became the seventh victim to contract rabies in the ongoing outbreak in Sarawak.