BPOM Resolves to Crack Down On Illegal Online Drug Trade
Pharmaceutical regulators vowed on Monday to tighten their supervision of the online sales of medicine, particularly through the increasingly popular use of social networking sites.
Lucky Slamet, Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) chairwoman, said that social media sites “are the next target.”
“We will expand the coverage of our supervision to include more online media and regions,” she said.
Lucky noted that the trade in illegal and counterfeit medicine online was reaching worrying levels, with many of the sellers using Facebook and Twitter to hawk their wares. She said that to be able to take firm action against the perpetrators, her office would need to work with the police and the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.
Lucky added that to date, the BPOM had only been able to catch “small fry” operators involved in the illegal online drug trade, and not the key players supplying them.
She was speaking at a press conference in Jakarta to announce the results of a joint operation involving police and Interpol, codenamed Operation Pangea V, targeting the cross-border trading and trafficking of illegal and fake medicine.
The weeklong operation, held simultaneously in 100 countries from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, found 83 online sites illegally selling medicine and supplements online to Indonesian consumers.
Lucky said the sites would be blocked and added that 66 medicine and supplement items worth Rp 150 million ($15,600) had already been seized from some of the web operators. “From this operation, four facilities have already been checked and legal steps will be taken against them. Two people have also been arrested,” she said, but declined to identify the companies or those arrested.
Lucky said that most of the drugs peddled through these sites were for erectile dysfunction or weight loss. None of the around 40 types of medicines and supplements identified were approved for sale in Indonesia, and the BPOM is currently testing the products for dangerous substances.
“What is certain is that there are no legal erectile dysfunction drugs or weight loss drugs being sold online,” Lucky said, adding that such medicines should be taken under strict medical supervision.
She also called on the public to report any suspicious sales of medicine online or outside registered and approved drugstores.