Illegal medicines How dangerous are they?

As a consumer, cheap bargains and 'miracle cures' without side effects are hard to resist. But illegal sellers do not fully disclose the ingredients in their product, and any information they actually DO provide might not be substantiated or is entirely fabricated. These ingredients may be harmful or fatal to consumers.

Buyers Beware

Consumers are advised not to risk their health for the sake of convenience or lower prices by purchasing medicines from dubious online sources, or from back alley peddlers, door-to-door salesmen and word of mouth testimonials.

Medicines purchased from these sources pose very high risk of being counterfeit or adulterated with undeclared substances that may cause serious harm to consumers. The dangers are especially high if the products are prescription drugs which should only be taken under close medical supervision.

For more advice on buying health products, please click here.

The Cost of Illegal Medicines? Your life.

With illegal medicines being available via alternative sources such as the Internet, makeshift stalls or even through referrals, there are more cases of consumers suffering from the harmful effects of consuming such medicines, which can be fatal.

Many elderly patients rely on a mixture of traditional beliefs and hearsay to try and find cures. Unfortunately, this has come to the attention of unscrupulous manufacturers, sellers and importers. They cash in on unsuspecting consumers to produce counterfeit or adulterated medicines and sell them at low costs.

Be wary of illegal products being peddled in the market. Play an active role in educating the people around you about the dangers of purchasing medicines from dubious sources. Do not let yourself or your loved ones be their next victim.

Case Study 1

In August 2012, a Malay woman in her 70s was hospitalised after taking 'Flutulang', an illegal medicine posed as a traditional cure for rheumatism. The drug contained two undeclared medicinal ingredients, phenylbutazone1 and chlorpheniramine2.

The woman assumed the product was safe because her relative took it without any adverse effect. Unfortunately, she developed a severe skin condition and eventually passed away.

Case Study 2

In July 2012, HSA alerted members of the public to several illegal adulterated capsules that were sold as traditional herbal medicines to treat arthritic and joint pain, as well as promote blood circulation. Samples of these capsules were tested and found to contain an undeclared potent substance, dexamethasone1.

The reported cases involved patients aged between 40 and 80 years, and affected both men and women. One of the cases included an 80-year-old man who was in critical condition after he took the capsules and had to be warded in the Intensive Care Unit for complications from chronic unsupervised steroid consumption.