Online Sale of Prescription Medicines


Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Tin Pei Ling

MP for MacPherson

Question No. 1792

To ask the Minister for Health whether local online marketplace or auction platforms are allowed to sell drugs such as antibiotics that require a doctor's prescription and, if disallowed, what is the Government doing to enforce the law.

Written Reply

1 Prescription-only medicines can only be dispensed from a licensed healthcare institution or retail pharmacy with a valid prescription. Anyone who contravenes this law can be fined up to $50,000 and/or jailed for up to 2 years under the Health Products Act.

2 The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) works with local web administrators to educate online sellers on the laws regulating prescription drugs and the consequences of illegally selling prescription drugs online. It also works with the web administrators to remove inappropriate online content advertising such sales.

3 In the area of enforcement, HSA monitors online sites to detect illegal sales of medicines, and takes actions against those who engage in such sales. As the issue extends beyond local sites, HSA also works with INTERPOL and its overseas counterparts to tackle the illegal sale of medicines.

4 Finally, HSA has embarked on public education efforts to complement its preventive and enforcement activities. It has issued consumer advisories and press releases to raise public awareness on the dangers of purchasing medicines online. In January 2018 for example, HSA launched an online campaign which included an educational video to highlight the risks of buying from dubious online sources. This video is also being shown by our 3 public healthcare clusters and 3 major retail pharmacy chains.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore