The Jakarta Post
The Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has said it will step up measures to curb the online drugs trade this year after seeing a spike in illegal drugs sold via the Internet in the past three years.
The BPOM said it would immediately start working with the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) to map online drug transactions in the country.
'We will discuss how we can strictly monitor drug transactions on websites to help save more people from unsafe drugs that could harm them,' BPOM chairman Roy A. Sparringa said on Wednesday.
Roy said that cracking down on online drug sales was a challenge for the agency.
'Cracking down [on the sale of] illegal and counterfeit drugs on the Internet is one of the biggest challenges that we are facing nowadays, as the technology keeps on developing rapidly and the merchants always find new ways to sell their products online, even after we shut down their websites,' he said.
BPOM data shows that 721 different types of illegal and counterfeit drugs, worth Rp 5.59 billion (US$456,885), were sold via 129 websites last year; a significant increase from the 66 types of drugs sold via 83 online outlets in 2012.
The agency also found that Ponstan, one of the most popular painkillers in Indonesia, is the most counterfeited medication in the country.
Roy said that besides Ponstan tablets, erectile dysfunction drugs (were the most counterfeited).
In 2011, the agency discovered 30 websites selling 57 types of drugs, including those containing harmful chemical substances.
Roy said he was optimistic that the collaboration with the PPATK would restrict illegal drug traders' online activities.
'The agency has the capacity to track transactions and by having the data [on the specific drug transactions], we will be able to crack down on illicit drugs sold online,' he added.
He said the agency would also work with the National Police, Interpol, the Communications and Information Ministry, as well as local governments to further improve drug safety in the country.
The BPOM has also noted that the number of violations against food and drug safety standards across the archipelago increased from 661 cases in 2012 to 690 cases last year.
The cases included traditional drugs and cosmetics that were unlicensed, and counterfeit drugs that are widely sold over the counter such as analgesics, antibiotics, antihistamines and vitamins.
Despite the rising number of illicit drug cases in the past few years, the agency has seen some improvements in the safety of food and drugs in Indonesia.
For instance, BPOM data shows that the distribution of harmful chemicals in food sold in 62 traditional markets across 16 provinces decreased to 12.4 percent by the end of 2013, down from 15.7 percent in 2012.
The agency also claimed that its School Food National Action Program (PJAS) had been a success.
The agency found that 80.79 percent of snacks and food sold in 16,993 public elementary schools were safe for consumption in 2013, up by 4.79 percent compared to the previous year.
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