Report: Five deaths from illegal abortion pills sold online

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during a World Health Day event in Putrajaya April 8, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during a World Health Day event in Putrajaya April 8, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Five women have died in Malaysia after consuming abortion pills they bought online through social media or popular shopping websites, including Lazada, Lelong.com and Shopee, Sinar Harian reported today.

The Malay daily cited Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad saying four of the deaths were reported in 2015, while the last was reported in 2017.

“Four deaths were due to heavy bleeding after giving birth, while one other case was caused by amniotic fluid embolism. All of the cases involved the intravaginal insertion of products containing misoprostol,” Dzulkefly was quoted saying.

He added that three other cases were classified as life threatening to the victims.

Dzulkefly said his ministry determined 146 websites which sold the abortion pills last year.

“To avoid from being tracked by the Pharmacy Enforcement Division, the modus operandi used by the syndicates of the misoprostol pills would use internet media such as Blogspot and social media, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Online platforms such as Lelong.com, 11street, Lazada, Shopee and many more were also included,” he was quoted saying.

He said 10 raids have been carried out since 2017 and 17 items worth RM85,513 smuggled in mostly from India and China have been seized.

The daily also reported Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah saying 18 websites selling cytotec were recorded from early this year until April 15, and re currently under investigation.

He said most of the accounts selling cytotec were found on Facebook and Blogspot, and the list has been given to the relevant agencies such as the Communication and Multimedia Commission Malaysia, to have the sites blocked.

He added that in 2017, the government blocked 20 social media sites for selling abortion pills.

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