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Illegal ads for pharmaceutical sales via internet increasingly rampant: lawmaker

A pharmacy in Seoul (Yonhap)
A pharmacy in Seoul (Yonhap)
Online ads for unauthorized pharmaceutical sales over the internet have increased substantially in recent years, according to a lawmaker Thursday.

The number of reported cases of illegal online ads for prescription drugs reached 37,343 as of 2019, up 49.8 percent from 2016, Rep. Ko Young-in of the ruling Democratic Party said, citing data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

During the period, ads for abortion-inducing drugs soared 12 times, from 193 to 2,365, and those for stimulants also climbed from 2,176 to 3,801.

The majority of the reported ads, or 80.1 percent, were displayed on online e-commerce markets. Commercials through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, also climbed sharply, from 360 in 2016 to 1,588 in 2019.

As of last year, only 10 cases were either charged with crimes or referred to law enforcement.

"The government needs to come up with a comprehensive plan that includes stronger regulation of online marketplaces and other platform operators regarding the unauthorized illegal drug sales," Ko said. (Yonhap)