“Do you really know what you are buying?” This is the new Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) public awareness campaign slogan to warn about the health risks of buying online medicines from illegal internet sites. This joint initiative is supported by other European agencies whose aim is to increase health authority commitment in the fight against fake health products. A European website is also available: http://www.fakeshare.eu/es/
A fake doctor, who was operating a healthcare facility, Covenant Clinic, in unhygienic conditions, was arrested during a special exercise by the Medical and Dental Council’s investigative team with police assistance. The clinic was closed after he was unable to provide certificates proving he was a certified doctor. A search conducted at the facility revealed that medicines were incorrectly stored and labeled, that a large quantity of used pregnancy test kits and syringes were stored in a room and that the instruments were sterilized using boiling water only.
A Venezuelan man presenting himself as doctor living in Florida was arrested in Miami for manslaughter and for practicing unlicensed medicine which resulted in death. He is accused of injecting a 28-year-old patient with an oily and yellow substance. The man was working in a place which was licensed as a massage parlor yet advertised on Facebook that it employed licensed plastic surgeons. Other deaths have been linked to unlicensed plastic surgery practices in this place.
The Ministry of Health said it has evidence that some local pharmaceutical companies are engaged in unethical practices, they would mislead consumers by changing the expiry dates of medicines. According to the article, they would also reduce the number of active ingredients in their products. Reports have been made that substandard chemical and pharmaceutical products, such as antibiotic skin ointments, cough syrups, and disinfectants, are being dispensed on the local market. The Health Minister is focusing on the means to regulate this sector.
Global illegal advertising, through social networking platforms, is expected to reach $11bn in 2017. According to officials in Dubai, around 715 online advertisements for illegal health products were monitored by the ministry in 2015. In general, these are advertisements that promote treatments and medicines which have not been approved by health authorities. The illegal medicines include herbal medicines, sex stimulants, fat-burning medicines and medicines for diabetes. Text messages were recently circulated throughout the UAE claiming that natural herbs could cure cancer.