FDA warns online shops that put prescription drugs on sale

Maris Federez   •   December 12, 2019   •   144

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has warned online shops that sell medicines and put prescription drugs on sale, especially this holiday season.

DOH spokesperson and FDA officer-in-charge Usec. Eric Domingo said that the agency has already penalized three online selling platforms for such infraction.

“It’s very rampant. At itong ibang na fine natin nakita na natin yan. Winarningan na natin. Tapos mawawala ng dalawa, tatlong araw iyong mga produkto tapos after a while babalik na naman. And then we have to remind them again na bawal. And we urge them na that they have to police their own ranks,” Domingo said.

The official also advised pharmacies to apply for separate license to operate and certificate of product registration from the FDA should they decide to also venture into online selling.

“Unang – una ang ating mga drug stores allowed lang kayo to sell the products within the premises of the store.  Kung gusto niyong tumanggap ng online orders you can apply for it as an extra activity with the FDA. But even then, may limitations iyon,” he added.

Domingo said the limitation is basically applicable to prescription medicines.

“Maaring mag- online, mag-order online ng isang kliyente nila pero kapag kukunin na iyong gamot kailangan pa rin niyang kunin sa pharmacy kung saan naka- store nang tama at ma- check ang reseta bago ibigay sa kaniya,” the official explained.

The FDA is still verifying several reports against online shops that openly sell medicines at a much cheaper price.

They shall be meted out with fines and corresponding charges. — (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Toxic level of methanol found in ‘lambanog’ samples from Laguna

Marje Pelayo   •   December 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Samples of distilled coconut sap locally known as ‘lambanog’ from three stores in Rizal, Laguna have tested positive of having up to 11% to 18% methanol content.

This was revealed from the results of the laboratory tests conducted by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) following a series of methanol poisoning in Laguna and Quezon that claimed the lives of 15 individuals and endangered several others.

The samples acquired were from the brands, Rey Lambanog, Emma’s Lambanog, and the one being sold by Orlando Mapa Store.

FDA said such level of methanol in alcoholic beverages is highly toxic for human consumption because the normal level should not exceed 1% to be safe.

“Kasi nga nagfo-form ng acid sa katawan ang methanol dahil hindi siya nada-digest ng ating atay. At kapag tuloy- tuloy maaari talagang ikamatay,” explained FDA Officer in Charge Eric Domingo.

Domingo added that excessive consumption of methanol can damage a person’s digestive system and may cause blindness as it also targets the optic nerves.

Study reveals that once ingested, the human body changes methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid.

A buildup of formic acid inside the human body causes serious damage in the body’s central nervous system.

In the case of lambanog, consumption of at least 30ml with such high level of methanol is definitely fatal.

Because of the recent methanol poisoning, the FDA is requiring all manufacturers of alcoholic drinks to secure a license to operate and a certificate of product registration to ensure proper product handling and preparation before they go out in the market.

“May mga produkto kasi na high risk, kasama itong ating mga alcoholic beverage na kung maaari po huwag na tayong bibili at iinom ng mga hindi rehistrado sa FDA (Some products are considered high risk such as these alcoholic beverages. As much as possible, we discourage consumers to purchase and drink products which are not FDA registered),” Domingo advised.

“Kasi ibig sabihin hindi natin namo- monitor ito. Hindi natin alam kung saan gawa, kung paano gawa at mahirap po nating mabigyan ng assurance ng safety ang publiko, (Because without it, we cannot monitor as to where the product is being manufactured or how it is made. It would be impossible for us to provide the public the assurance of product safety),” he added.

The FDA reiterates that consumers must purchase only those food products and beverages licensed and approved by the agency. – MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

FDA asks LGUs to crackdown on unregistered ‘lambanog’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking local government units (LGUs) to enforce strict regulation against purchase and consumption of distilled coconut sap locally known as ‘lambanog.’

The request comes after reports that drinking lambanog with high content of methanol caused the deaths of 11 individuals in Laguna and Quezon.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hereby warns the public on the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages that have not undergone the safety evaluation of this agency,” the FDA said in its advisory.

“All Local Government Units and Law Enforcement Agencies are requested to ensure that these products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction,” the agency further said.

According to FDA: “Ingestion of product with an elevated amount of methanol poses serious adverse effects such as blindness, permanent neurologic dysfunction, and even death.”

On Monday (December 23), Mayor Vener Muñoz of Rizal, Laguna declared a state of emergency in his town to address the situation.

Muñoz ordered all individuals who have taken the concerned brand of lambanog to subject themselves into medical consultation.

Among them were Francisco and Delia who rushed to the center to verify their condition.

“Magsisiguro lang kami na makaligtas, (We just want to confirm to be safe,)” said Francisco Solqua.

“Ang balita ko walo na, siempre nenerbyusin ka at walo na ang namatay, (We heard in the news that eight already died and that worries us,)” he added.

“Gusto lang naming magpa-checkuo kasi nakainom kami noon, (We wanted to be checked because we, too, have taken it,)” Delia Monserat said.

Based on the record of the Rizal Municipal Health Office, they already have more than 300 patients under observation.

Symptoms of poisoning manifested among the victims include severe stomach pain, blurring vision, nausea and vomiting after drinking lambanog, according to Rizal MHO Administrative Officer John Michael Gangay.

“Based doon sa findings ng PGH sa ilan na dinala duon may nag-positive sa methanol intoxification, (Based on the findings of the [Philippine General Hospital] from those who were brought there, they were positive of methanol intoxification,)” Gangay said.

The municipal government has already ordered a temporary ban on sale and purchase of Lambanog.

“Kahit kami ay nabigla. Hindi namin alam na may mangyayaring ganito sa bayan namin, (We were also surprised that something like this happened to our place,)” said Antonio Aurello, Rizal Vice Mayor.

“We are doing our best para ma-extend ang tulong sa aming mga kababayan, (help to our kababayans.)” he added.

The Rizal PNP already seized all available supply from the store in Barangay Pook where the victims bought the lambanog while an investigation is ongoing.

“Iimbestigahan natin ito ng mabuti at posibleng magsampa tayo ng demanda laban sa may ari ng Rey Lambanog na si Mr. Fred Rey, (We will investigate this thoroughly and possibly we will file charges against the owner of Rey Lambanog, Mr. Fred Rey,)” explained Police Capt. Lindley Tibuc, the Chief of Rizal Police, said.

“Posibleng madamay ang kaniyang anak na nakapangalan sa DTI, (His son might be implicated because of the registered name in the DTI,)” the official added.

The manufacturer who is based in San Juan, Batangas has already ordered a recall of the lambanog from all its traders.

The supplier will face charges of negligence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.

A similar case of lambanog poisoning was reported in December 2018 where 10 persons died in Laguna, Quezon and Bulacan.

The FDA, meanwhile, advises the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming unregistered alcoholic beverages.

As of press time, only 14 brands of lambanog have certification from FDA.

“Retail outlets, and other dealers of alcoholic beverages, are warned against the sale of unregistered products which is a violation of the FDA Act of 2009 and the Food Safety Act of 2013,” the agency said – MNP (with inputs fro Sherwin Culubong)

Food and Drug Action Center announces half-day work on Dec. 13

Marje Pelayo   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces half-day work suspension at the Food and Drug Action Center (FDAC) on Friday (December 13).

The half-day suspension is to provide our employees the opportunity to participate in the FDA wide event on the said date.

Thus, office work at FDAC will be suspended from 12:00 noon onwards, the FDA advised its clients.

“Applicants with confirmed schedule to appear on the said date will be accommodated during regular office hours,” the advisory said.

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