PETALING JAYA: Illegal abortion pills are openly sold on e-commerce sites despite repeated warnings from the Department of Health about these unauthorized products.
The Star found that pills such as mifepristone, which are not licensed for sale in Malaysia, are offered on popular online shopping sites for RM169.90 for a strip of five. Several options are sold at different prices.
The promotional literature claims that the original price of the product is RM449 and it is being sold at a discounted rate. It further claims that the pills are safe and effective.
Director General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the pills are not registered for sale in Malaysia.
“Mifepristone has not been registered here at all. As for Misoprostol…which we wrote off,” he said when contacted.
He also warned that it is dangerous to consume abortion pills without a prescription and worse if there are side effects.
“These products sold online are dangerous. And illegal because they are not registered locally,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham added that the Pharmacy Enforcement Division will take the necessary action. The vendors claim that the pills can be used for pregnancy less than 59 days and it takes five pills to see results.
“So five tablets must be completed – 24 hours later you can see the results,” the product description reads.
According to the website, more than 100 of these boxes have been sold.
As for the testimonials, some alleged users claim to have started seeing results as early as 20 minutes. They also suggest that those who can’t stand the pain have painkillers or paracetamol on standby.
There were others who however say that the pill did not work for them.
Doctors have stated that these drugs are not intended for self-consumption or over-the-counter sale. Abortion, they said, must be performed under the strict supervision of an obstetrician.
“It has a lot of side effects and it’s not for the public,” a doctor said on condition of anonymity.
Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Milton Lum said the use of mifepristone is only safe when taken under medical supervision, adding that the pill has been approved for use in “medical abortion ” by international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Gynecology. and International Planned Parenthood Federation.
“Its risks include infection, bleeding, uterine rupture. Toxic shock is life-threatening,” said the former president of the Federation of Private Doctors Associations and the Malaysian Medical Association.
The biggest problem, Dr Lum said, is unsafe abortion with its risks of infection, bleeding and trauma to internal organs, including uterine rupture.
He warned women against self-medication to end unwanted pregnancies.
“If you have an unwanted pregnancy, talk to your doctor. Do not self-medicate,” he urged forcefully.
He said government agencies have a duty to track and block online sellers and confiscate individual packages as the pill is not allowed to be used in Malaysia.
However, he noted that crackdowns can be difficult and impractical.
“The most practical approach is to authorize the use of mifepristone by doctors. Reproductive health policies should not be based on religious or political sensitivities,” he said.
According to article 312 of the Penal Code, a pregnancy can only be terminated when a licensed physician considers that the continuation of the pregnancy may endanger the life of the mother or harm her physical or mental health.