The four-day multi-agency joint operation, which ended last Saturday morning, was led by Bedok Police Division, supported by officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Singapore Customs, Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA).
Earlier, on 27 September, about 300,000 units of illegal sex drugs were seized from an apartment in Geylang. As announced by the HSA, the seizure was the largest in five years, with a street value worth of SGD700,000. On 18 May, more than 94,000 units of illegal health products (mostly sex drugs) were seized – with a street value worth of over SGD200,000.
Continuous supply to meet demands of illegal sex drugsDespite having the authorities who stepped up enforcement efforts in recent years, there are still peddlers who continue selling illegal sex drugs, along with other illegal health products openly at the Geylang traffic junction.
Sex drugs with names like Super Magic Man and India Flirting Power come with promises of strength and greater pleasure during sex. On the packaging, the usage instructions are usually simple and short, like “one time, one pill”. A peddler even shared with Channel NewsAsia that his business is usually fine; he sold a pill for SGD8 per day, and he can make SGD50 a day.
These illegal sex drugs, as remarked by the HSA, could “potentially be counterfeits or adulterated with undeclared potent or banned ingredients”, and “as they are manufactured under unknown conditions, they may not contain the correct ingredients, or the right dosages”. Nevertheless, many sellers would just tell consumers that the pills are safe to use.
Many consumers of these products are found to experience symptoms related to low blood sugar, such as dizziness, cold sweat, anxiety, as well as the loss of consciousness. HSA further elaborated that if the products were taken without medical supervision, the anti-impotency compounds could cause a loss of vision and hearing, strokes and priapism (a painful yet lasting erection without sexual arousal). Priapism would lead to permanent impotence if not treated immediately.
Here lies a concern about consumers continuously getting the illegal sexual drugs, despite health risks. Regarding the matter, HSA expressed “anonymity” as one of the main reason. With the social stigma attached to medical conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED), they would prefer to shy away from meeting doctors for approved medicines, as it is necessary in Singapore.
Besides, legally approved medicines to treat ED can be very expensive for consumers. A box of four Viagra tablets from a general practitioner could easily cost about SGD80, including the consultation fees. As a comparison, a vial of 10 assumed original Viagra pills cost only about SGD25.
However, the medical director of Parkway Shenton, Dr Winston Ho pointed out the importance of getting a doctor’s consultation before consuming health products (especially sex drugs), to avoid missing out on “diagnosing a potentially fatal heart condition”. He further highlighted that “it is important to understand that ED may be caused by older age as well as by diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and sometimes medication,” besides the need to know that “one cannot take an ED drug if he has a heart disease and is taking a form of medication called nitrates. This combination can and will trigger a heart attack”.
Authorities: Course of actions to put a stop to illicit activities
HSA also commented that it can be difficult to track the manufacturing origins of the illegal sex drugs. The agency added, “it could involve multiple sites. For example, the pills are manufactured in one place, and packing and label printing are done in other places. Even if the manufacturing details are on the labels, such information could be falsified.”
Under the Poisons Act, those who are convicted in producing illegal sex drugs, besides unapproved health products containing potent medicinal ingredients, could face imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to SGD10,000. Under the Medicines Act, they could face an additional fine of up to SGD5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to two years.
HSA commented that they will continue to work closely with ICA to “hunt down” illegal health products. The agency also commented that it is monitoring UK developments on making Viagra available over the counter.
“HSA facilitates consumer access to safe and effective treatments through the reclassification of suitable medicines from prescription to non-prescription control,” commented HSA. “In selecting a candidate for reclassification, HSA takes into consideration various factors, including whether the medicine can be safely used by consumers without a doctor’s supervision, whether the disease or condition can be self-diagnosed by the patient, as well as public interests and social implications,” the agency further elaborated. However, it is argued that Singapore is not ready for such move.
Ultimately, there is a need for authorities to strengthen surveillance on the streets, especially in Geylang, to control the activities of the peddlers. MIMS
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