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ICA foils 5 attempts to illegally import more than 23,000 ivermectin tablets into Singapore

ICA foils 5 attempts to illegally import more than 23,000 ivermectin tablets into Singapore

Ivermectin tablets detected in postal parcels. (Photos: ICA)

SINGAPORE: Five attempts to illegally import a total of 23,100 ivermectin tablets into Singapore were foiled by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), it said on Tuesday (Oct 19).

In a Facebook post, ICA said its officers at Changi Airfreight Centre and Airmail Transit Centre (Air Cargo Command) detected the offending postal parcels between Sep 10 and Oct 6.

The first parcel on Sep 10 of 3,200 tablets had no declaration of items contained within, while the second parcel on Sep 13 had 3,500 tablets declared as "healthcare products".

On Sep 21, 2,400 tablets were detected under the declaration "supplement pharma product". 

Twelve thousand tablets of ivermectin were detected on Oct 2, together with 2,000 tablets of hydroxycloroquine and 2,048 tablets of mycophenolate mofetil.

The final parcel on Oct 6 had 2,000 tablets of ivermectin with no declaration.

"The importations were not authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and were detected when our officers noticed anomalies in the scanned images of the parcels. The officers subsequently referred the cases to the HSA for further investigation," said ICA.

"HSA takes a serious view against those engaged in the illegal import, sale and supply of medicines, including ivermectin, and will take strong enforcement action against such persons."

ICA said safeguarding Singapore’s border is a "top priority" and it will continue to be on the alert for attempts to illegally import items such as unauthorised medication to protect the safety of our community.

HSA has "strongly advised" consumers against self-medicating with ivermectin.

In an advisory on Oct 5, it said "ivermectin is a prescription-only medicine registered in Singapore only for the treatment of parasitic worm infections".

"It is not an anti-viral medicine and is not approved by HSA for use in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19," it added.

According to HSA, there has not been scientific evidence from properly conducted clinical trials to prove that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.

"There was a local study conducted by the National University Health System in 2020 to assess if existing registered medicines including ivermectin could help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and the study did not find any evidence suggesting that ivermectin has any effect on COVID-19," said HSA.

The authority also warned that ivermectin's side effects include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, seizures, sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash as well as liver injury.

HSA said ivermectin can also interact with other medications used such as blood-thinners, and there have been reports of patients requiring hospitalisation after self-medication with ivermectin.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has flagged certain local websites for posting unverified and potentially misleading information on COVID-19 and vaccines.

One such website called "Truth Warriors" claimed that ivermectin is safe and effective in treating COVID-19, said MOH on Oct 15.

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Source: CNA/jt(rw)

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