More control against adulterated food and traditional medicine
By LIM WEY WEN
PETALING JAYA: The new Pharmacy Bill will give drug control authorities more flexibility to protect consumers from food or traditional medicine that is adulterated with prescription drugs.
Health Ministry Pharmaceutical Services Division enforcement director Mohd Hatta Ahmad said under the proposed new legislation, it would be able to issue directives to stop the sale and distribution of such products according to market trends.
“For instance, if we find that adulterated slimming products are being sold in night markets, we can issue a directive to ban their sale in night markets,” said Mohd Hatta.
He added that the division could also bar offending manufacturers or industry players from the pharmaceutical industry.
Mohd Hatta said existing laws, including the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, did not have provisions for the division to do that.
He said the division conducted active market surveillance and tested samples of suspect products for prescription drugs before taking the culprits to court if a food product or traditional medicine was found to be adulterated with drugs like sex stimulants or appetite suppressants.
However, the individual penalty was only a maximum fine of RM25,000 or a jail sentence of not more than three years or both for the first offence.
While companies that were found guilty could be fined up to RM50,000 and RM100,000 for the first and subsequent offences respectively, Mohd Hatta said this was not a deterrent.
He said the new pharmacy laws would also provide for stiffer fines in the range of millions of ringgit.
On Tuesday, The Star had highlighted that appetite suppressant drugs sibutramine (banned) and phentermine (controlled) were still being added to traditional medicine and health supplements by unscrupulous manufacturers.