SINGAPORE — The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Tuesday (19 October) said that it had foiled five recent attempts at illegally importing antiparasitic drug ivermectin into Singapore, confiscating 23,100 tablets in total.
In a Facebook post, the ICA wrote that its officers at Changi Airfreight Centre and Airmail Transit Centre (Air Cargo Command) had foiled these attempts – made via postal parcels – between 10 September and 6 October.
The buyers had either failed to declare the items or had declared them as "healthcare products", said the ICA.
These were not authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and were detected when the ICA officers noticed anomalies in the scanned images of the parcels.
The officers later referred the cases to the HSA for further investigation, added the ICA.
Apart from ivermectin, commonly used as a de-wormer for horses, the ICA also confiscated 2,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine and 2,048 tablets of mycophenolate mofetil.
This comes two weeks after the HSA reiterated its call for members of the public to refrain from taking ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
The advisory was issued shortly after Facebook user Vanessa Koh Wan Ling alleged that her mother had obtained and taken the drug on the advice of fellow parishioners at Church of the Risen Christ.
“Consumers are strongly advised not to self-medicate with ivermectin and to consult their doctor for proper treatment of COVID-19,” said the HSA on 5 October. It had in September issued a similar advisory.
“Self-medicating with ivermectin can be dangerous to your health,” said the HSA, adding that there have been reports of patients requiring hospitalisation after taking the drug.
Side-effects from taking ivermectin can include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and neurologic adverse events such as dizziness, seizures, and confusion. Individuals can also suffer from a sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash potentially requiring hospitalisation, and liver injury, such as hepatitis.
The HSA added that it takes a serious view against those engaged in the illegal sale and supply of medicines, including ivermectin, and will take strong enforcement action against such individuals.
If convicted under the Health Products Act, each offender can face up to two years in jail, or be fined up to $50,000, or both.
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