The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has removed 2,361 online listings and investigated 360 parcels of illegal health products during an INTERPOL led internet-based operation which took place from 1 to 7 June 2023. The operation with the code name “Operation Pangea-ED” saw participation by 16 member countries and targeted the sale of illegal health products, specifically sexual enhancement products in the Asia-Pacific region.
During the week, HSA intensified the surveillance of activities on local e-commerce platforms, Geylang hotspots and parcels coming in through the borders to detect and disrupt the online and offline sale of illegal sexual enhancement products.
The illegal sexual enhancement products seized by HSA included:
- Various brands of unregistered, prescription-only medicines for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These medicines need to be registered by HSA and prescribed by a doctor.
- Other sexual enhancement products, such as ‘African Black Ant’1, that have been previously tested by HSA or other regulators to be adulterated with medicinal ingredients such as sildenafil. Sildenafil is a prescription-only medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction. Using it without proper medical supervision can cause serious adverse reactions such as decreased or loss of vision and hearing, low blood pressure and other cardiovascular events such as stroke and myocardial infarction.
Effective surveillance and enforcement disrupts illegal sales
With illegal sexual enhancement products making up more than half of the online listings detected and removed in 20222, HSA has been stepping up the online surveillance of these products in the first half of this year. In the lead up to and conclusion of Operation Pangea-ED, 2,171 product listings online that marketed illegal sexual enhancement products were removed from 1 January to 7 June 2023. This figure was higher than the same period in 2022, where 367 listings were removed.
While surveillance and enforcement actions were intensified online during Operation Pangea-ED, routine enforcement efforts on the ground continued to disrupt illegal supply in hotspots in the months leading up to the operation. The overall seizure value of illegal sexual enhancement products from 1 January to 7 June 2023 at Geylang hotspots was about S$130,000. Six sellers were caught and are assisting with ongoing investigations.
From 1 January to 7 June 2023, 459 parcels shipped into Singapore from overseas were detected to contain illegal sexual enhancement products, of which 5 were addressed to locations in Geylang. Sellers are assisting in HSA’s ongoing investigations.
Members of the public who encounter illegal, counterfeit or other suspicious health products are encouraged to contact the Enforcement Branch of HSA at Tel: 68663485 or email: [email protected]