Beware of unauthorised medicines: Minister

|     Hakim hayat     |

MOST traditional medicines containing prohibited substance making their way into the Brunei market include slimming products and men’s health supplements that may cause adverse health effects in the long term, Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said yesterday.

He also urged the public to be wary of unlicenced or unregistered traditional medicines brought into the Brunei market.

The minister also said that routine checks are conducted to ensure that such products are not sold, and stern action would be taken against those found in violation of the law.

Speaking at the 15th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting, the minister was responding to a query by LegCo member and Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’ Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin on the need to enhance the monitoring of slimming and cosmetic products brought into Brunei from neighbouring countries which he said might not be safe for consumption.

The minister in his response, acknowledged that slimming products are quite popular in Brunei and reiterated the health risks associated with the use of some traditional medicines.

He noted that most of the products containing prohibited substances found locally include drugs or supplements for slimming, rheumatism, men’s health, painkillers, coughs, flu and skincare.

“These medicines make them feel good, because most of them contain steroids… and for men’s health products, they mostly contain sildenafil…we must understand that consuming these products can cause low blood pressure and fainting, and too much steroids can also affect kidney and heart function and cause skin problems, among others,” he said.

In light of this issue, the minister said that the Pharmaceutical Services Department, as an agency and regulator, makes routine inspections and checks to monitor the products in cube stores, drug stores and also expositions, to ensure that the products sold are licensed and registered with them.

He also added that if the products are found to be otherwise, then they would be removed and forfeited.

“Usually, samples of traditional medicines are processed according to a schedule, and they will be analysed in the lab to detect any contamination,” he said, urging the public to inform the Ministry of Health (MoH) or contact the Darussalam line 123 of any such products being sold through the black market.

He warned that a compound fine can be levied on individuals or business owners found in violation of the Poisons Act 1997, Medicines Order 2007, and also the Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations 2007.

“In 2018, a total of 16 companies were issued with compound fines totalling BND9,500…the fine is not a small amount so it is the responsibility of businesses to verify the contents of their products and register them with the MoH, to be analysed before it can be sold on the market,” the minister said.