FDA orders Shopee, Lazada to stop online sale of medicines

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, June 14, ordered online shopping platforms Shopee Philippines and Lazada Philippines to immediately stop the sale of medicines until they secure the proper llicenses.

The FDA, an attached agency of the Department of Health, warned that the continuous sale of drug products online placed "the lives of the general public in danger and at risk."

The FDA said it served Shopee and Lazada "summons with preventive measure order" directing it "under pain of direct or indirect contempt and/or other administrative sanctions" to cease and desist from selling and offering drug products online.

"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 said.

The FDA earlier said the growth of online sales of medicine carried significant risks to public health as there was no guarantee of knowing if medicines were real or if they were safe and effective.

It urged the public to exercise "extreme caution" and to avoid the purchase of health products online.

"Buying medicines online over the internet can pose serious health risk.... Even if the medicines bought online looks the same, there is no guarantee it is genuine.... Also, these medicines may not be stored correctly in accordance with its appropriate storage conditions," the FDA said.

The FDA warned that the under existing laws, the online sale of medicines was not allowed in the Philippines. Philippine laws only allow the online ordering of medicines if sellers have an existing FDA-licensed pharmacy with a physical address. Ordering medicines online, FDA added, was also subject to approval.

The FDA urged the public to report the unauthorized sale of drug products to report@fda.gov.ph, through eREPORT at www.fda.gov.ph/ereport, or through its hotline at 809-5596. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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