Illegal sexual enhancement, male vitality products make up 30% of online listings removed by HSA

Kolette Lim
The Straits Times
Oct 31, 2023

More than 4,600 illegal health product listings were removed from local online marketplaces by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), in an eight-day operation coordinated by Interpol.

Eighty-nine countries participated in Operation Pangea XVI from Oct 3 and 10, with 72 arrests worldwide, along with the closure of more than 1,300 criminal websites globally, Interpol said.

The majority of the 4,681 listings removed from e-commerce and social media platforms in Singapore were lifestyle health products, said HSA on Tuesday.

Sexual enhancement and male vitality products made up 30 per cent of the removed listings, along with aesthetic enhancement products (14 per cent), contraceptives, weight loss products and skin products such as topical creams and ointments (8 per cent each). 

During the operation, HSA and local enforcement agencies also seized at the checkpoints some 60,372 illegal health products, including sexual enhancement products, sedatives, herbal supplements and pain management products.

Globally, the seized pharmaceutical products that are potentially dangerous are worth more than US$7 million (S$9.56m), Interpol said, adding that erectile dysfunction medicines, at 22 per cent, made up the biggest proportion of seized medications worldwide.

Psychotherapeutic agents, such as antidepressants, were second at 19 per cent, followed by sex hormones and gastrointestinal medicines at 12 per cent.

“Counterfeit medicines and the misuse of regulated medication is a significant threat to public safety around the world,” said Interpol secretary general Jurgen Stock. “Operation Pangea XVI removed a large amount of illegal and potentially life-threatening products off the streets and dismantled criminal networks trafficking such goods.

“The operation underlines the continuing need for a coordinated and global response against the threat posed by illicit medicines and transnational organized crime groups.”

HSA advises the public against buying such products from online platforms as they have not been evaluated or approved by the authority, hence their safety, quality and efficacy are not guaranteed.

Some of these products should be prescribed only by medical professionals and may lead to serious adverse effects if used incorrectly.

HSA also warned consumers to be careful of potentially harmful ingredients in do-it-yourself beauty injection kits, unsafe or banned ingredients - such as steroids - in health supplements, and those that promise quick results.

“When buying health products online, buy them from reputable retailers’ websites or those with an established retail presence in Singapore,” HSA added.

Those who come across illegal, fake or suspicious health products are encouraged to contact HSA’s enforcement branch at 6866 3485, or

Selling adulterated health products, prescription-only medicines and medical devices on local e-commerce platforms is illegal in Singapore.

Those convicted may be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $100,000, or both.

The Straits Times

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