HSA seized more 1.12m illegal health products in 2023, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

HSA seized more 1.12m illegal health products in 2023

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) took down more than 12,000 listings of illegal health products on local e-commerce and social media platforms in 2023 – almost thrice as much as the year before.

About 48 per cent of the sellers of such products on those platforms were based in Singapore, with the bulk of the items being sexual enhancement and male vitality supplements as well as addictive medicines such as codeine cough syrup, the authority said on Jan 30.

The products were either unregistered, counterfeit, or contained potent medicinal ingredients or banned substances.

The spike in the number of listings removed – from 4,569 listings in 2022 to 12,474 in 2023 – was mainly because of two international operations coordinated by Interpol.

Between June 23 and June 30, 2023, HSA removed more than 800 listings of illegal health products from platforms such as Shopee, Carousell and Facebook.

In October that year, the agency once again took down over 4,600 illegal health product listings.

A total of 1,895 sellers received warnings, said the HSA statement.

The illegal listings removed also included hair and beauty products, as well as those for managing chronic conditions such as eczema and gout.

Such health products often contain potent steroids, with prolonged use possibly causing side effects like Cushing’s syndrome – which is marked by a round face and upper body obesity with thin limbs – high blood pressure and bone disorders.

The authority also seized more illegal health products in 2023, about 1.12 million units compared with the 737,000 in 2022.

HSA attributed the larger haul to increased surveillance and enforcement actions against illegal suppliers in areas where such products are peddled. The street value of the items seized amounts to about $658,000.

Of the illegal products seized, the majority was codeine cough syrup, with other products including sexual enhancement and male vitality supplements, sedatives and other prescription medicines.

Calling illegal health products a continued threat to public health and safety, the authority said that such items will remain in circulation as long as demand exists.

Sellers will constantly find ways to take advantage of people’s health concerns and profit off them, it said, adding that “they have no regard for the health and safety of their buyers”.