KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 ― For Malaysians looking to buy Covid-19 self-test kits online, the Malaysian government’s one-stop app for all things Covid-19 ― MySejahtera ― has been directing them to an e-commerce website called Pharma2u.co.
Following a complaint recently from the professional body for pharmacists in Malaysia on the online sales of the test kits and other issues, a check by Malay Mail today of the Pharma2u.co website showed that it had temporarily suspended sales of Covid-19 self-test kits.
In a bilingual notice to customers, Pharma2u said: “The self-test kits are not available for online sales temporarily. The merchants for these self-test kits, Salixium, Gmate, Juschek, LongSee, All Test and Beright are working with the relevant authorities on ensuring they are available as soon as possible.”
But for those who had already successfully made their purchases previously, Pharma2u said orders would be shipped to them as confirmed and that it would follow up with a confirmation email once the merchant has shipped the kits.
It said such customers could alternatively track their orders using the “track my order” feature.
Pharma2u, which appears to be a little-known service, describes itself on its own website as an “e-commerce platform” and an “emerging online shopping site for all kinds of healthcare products.”
Pharma2u said its e-commerce platform provides protection of customers’ data and a secure method to pay with payments only released to sellers upon confirmation that the products have been received.
While claiming to be a “Malaysian based company”, Pharma2u’s website did not prominently list down further details such as whether it was registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) or provide a company registration number, and also did not feature additional information such as who founded or is operating the company or the company’s background or history.
The “Contact Us” section on the website did not provide contact details such as a phone number or email address or a physical address, and instead provides an online form to be filled in.
It is only in the Terms & Conditions section of Pharma2u’s website that it was stated that the online platform is “owned and operated by Mudah Healthcare Sdn. Bhd. (Company registration No. 1391282-U)”.
These details were not immediately apparent as would normally be the case on corporate websites.
At the time of writing, the Pharma2u website only lists the six Covid-19 self-test kits approved for use in Malaysia but with the additional label of “Out of Stock” for all six, and does not list down any other healthcare products.
On Thursday (July 29), the Health Ministry had in a brief Facebook post said that the MySejahtera mobile app had been updated with enhanced features that morning and advised users to update to the latest version.
Along with the Facebook post, the Health Ministry had included screenshots showing the new button of “Covid-19 self test”, and a screenshot of the MySejahtera app’s listing of Salixium, Gmate and JusCheck self-test kits, as well as “Bulk & Corporate Orders” with Pharma2u’s logo.
While the ministry did not further elaborate, MySejahtera users who clicked on the three brand names of the self-test kits would be able to either click on “Update Self Test Result” or “Purchase Online”. Clicking on the “Purchase Online” button results in the users being sent to Pharma2u’s website.
Clicking on “Bulk & Corporate Orders” also sends users to Pharma2u’s website.
Questions and complaints raised
On Friday (July 30), former minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change and Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin had on Facebook raised questions on the sole listing of Pharma2u on the latest version of the MySejahtera app.
“It’s good that MySejahtera added Covid-19 Self Test feature. But I am wondering why if I click purchase online, only one website listed? Who’s Pharma2U? To be fair, should list all qualified vendors who sell online and want to be listed, or none at all. More competition, better price,” she wrote briefly.
Yesterday (August 1), the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) released on Facebook its July 30 complaint letter to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, Malaysia Competition Commission chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Md Yunus, Malaysia Device Authority (MDA) chief executive Ahmad Shariff Hambali, and the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical services programme’s senior director of pharmaceutical services Norhaliza A Halim.
In the July 30 complaint, MPS president Amrahi Buang highlighted the society’s disappointment with the listing of Pharma2u on MySejahtera’s app, pointing out that the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 Management Guidelines’ Annex 4G’s clauses 3.2 and 5.0(b) only allows licensed pharmacy premises or MDA-approved health facilities to sell Covid-19 self-test kits.
In the letter, MPS also expressed outrage over the alleged “unfair advantage” given to Pharma2u which MPS felt was an “abuse of dominant position” in the MySejahtera app, contrasting this to valid community pharmacies which operate according to laws and regulations and provide Covid-19 self-test kits to customers with proper guidance.
MPS had in the same complaint letter pointed out the risks of directly selling Covid-19 self-test kits if there was no proper guidance by pharmacists, as there might be increased risk in inaccurate test results due to lack of counselling in handling the tests.
MPS said poor handling techniques could also result in higher probability of cross-contamination, and under-reporting of test results through the MySejahtera app.
“Non-proper disposals of test kits due to lack of guidance by pharmacists upon purchasing, will also contribute to unwanted contamination to the environment, thereby exacerbating the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the public,” MPS had said in its complaint against the direct online selling by Pharma2u.
Among other things, MPS had also in the July 30 complaint letter claimed that Pharma2u’s use of the word “Pharma” had breached the Registration of Pharmacists Act’s clause 13, as it is allegedly not a company under the control and management of a registered pharmacist.
A check by Malay Mail of the MDA website shows that its latest listing features six Covid-19 self-test kits approved for use in Malaysia through conditional approvals granted by MDA.
This list updated on July 29 shows the six products known as Salixium under the Selangor-based company Reszon Diagnostic International Sdn Bhd which is also the listed manufacturer, Gmate under the company Citymedic Sdn Bhd and manufactured by Korea’s Philosys Co Ltd, Beright under Medinics (M) Sdn Bhd and manufactured by Hangzhou AllTest Biotech Co Ltd, ALLTest under Global Science Sdn Bhd and JusChek under Neopharma Biotech Asia Sdn Bhd with both manufactured by China’s Hangzhou AllTest Biotech Co Ltd, and Longsee under Jingga Anggun Sdn Bhd with the manufacturer listed as China’s Guangdong Longsee Biomedical Co Ltd.
This list will be updated by the MDA from time to time.
In an announcement dated July 30 on its website, the chief executive of the government agency MDA states that the Covid-19 self-test kits which had received its conditional approval for use in Malaysia “can only be sold in licensed community pharmacies or approved health facilities”, with the list of such licensed community pharmacies available on https://www.pharmacy.gov.my/v2/ms/maklumat/daftar-lesen.html
The MDA also said the online sales of Covid-19 self-test kits would only be allowed to pharmacies and registered health facilities, subject to the manufacturers’ instructions on the safe method of storage and delivery to ensure the self-test kits remain effective when it reaches the users.
The MDA also advised the public to refer to the written instructions for use on the self-test kits before using, to ensure it is correctly and safely used and disposed of. It also said test results have to be reported according to instructions stated.
As of the time of writing and based on the latest updated version of MySejahtera, the app currently only lists Salixium, Gmate and JusChek along with the test results reporting functions, and has yet to list the three other approved kits of Beright, ALLTest and Longsee.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.