Ministry warns against buying unlicensed disinfectants on Facebook

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The Ministry of Health has called on people to stop using alchohol-based disinfectants, hand-sanitiser gels and other disinfection products being advertised and sold on social media without a permit. Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health has called on people to stop using alchohol-based disinfectants, hand-sanitiser gels and other disinfection products being advertised and sold on social media without a permit.

In a press release issued on May 3, the ministry said: "According to our review, there are at least 12 Facebook accounts that are illegally promoting the sale of alcohol-based disinfectants, hand-sanitiser gels and other disinfection products.”

It said that in the past the Department of Drugs, Food, Medical Devices and Cosmetics (DDF) had purchased alcohol-based disinfectants and some other disinfection products sold on Facebook to check their quality and found that they are mostly counterfeit and of substandard quality, containing only methanol or methanol mixed with ethanol or alcohol.

"These products cannot be guaranteed for their quality or efficiency or safety for consumers and may contain substances that can affect one’s health or endanger lives," the press release said.

Pursuant to the laws regarding pharmaceuticals, all sales of these disinfectant products in Cambodia must be approved by the health ministry.

The ministry warned of legal action against the owners of Facebook accounts they have identified.

General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention director-general Phan Oun said on May 4 that their inspectors frequently visited the sales and distribution sites of alcohol-based disinfectants and gels that are available in pharmacies and markets for quality control checks.

"In April, due to the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19, some opportunists engaged in the dishonest business of selling counterfeit alcohol as a disinfectant," he said.

Oun said officials have been investigating many cases of this sort, including at least one physical location that has already been targeted by the ministry. He said they were waiting to hear back from the prosecutor and are arranging cooperation with the local authorities because the suspected location is in a red zone, making the operation more difficult.

He said that on April 12-13 the department had also cracked down on two online alcohol vendors in Dangkor district, confiscating unlabelled alcohol and counterfeit gels.

“We seized 272 plastic bottles or 8,140 litres of methanol and five unbranded plastic barrels of alcohol with another 180 litres. The cases are still under investigation,” he said.