Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics raised the alert after finding several FDA-banned mercury-added products, including skin lightening creams, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgam capsules, and liquid mercury being sold in several Philippine e-commerce sites.
BT Patroller Mary Kate San Juan conducted another online monitoring for the upcoming 7.7 Mega Sale of online shopping platforms. She discovered 26 product listing of mercury-containing sphygmomanometers, 6 mercury thermometers, and 16 mercury dental amalgam from Shopee, while Lazada had 21 product listing of mercury-containing sphygmomanometers, 50 mercury thermometers, and 18 of mercury dental amalgam.
Another revelation is the continued sale of banned mercury-laden skin lightening creams in both online shopping sites despite public health advisories issued by the FDA.
According to the World Health Organization Fact Sheets on Mercury and Health, mercury is considered as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. Exposure to mercury, even small amounts, may cause serious health problems. The chemical also poses a threat to the development of the child in utero and early stages in life. Mercury may also have toxic effects to the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes.
On June 10, 2022, the Department of Health – Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) issued FDA Circular No. 2022-003 which bans all mercury-added thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgam capsules, and liquid mercury for use in dental restorative purposes.
The circular totally prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, sale, offer for sale, donation, transfer, and where applicable, the use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of mercury-added thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgam capsules, and liquid mercury for use in dental restorative purposes to protect human health from adverse effects of the chemical.
Any establishment found to be in violation of the provisions of this issuance shall be subjected to sanctions and penalties as prescribed under Republic Act 9711, otherwise known as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009, and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the circular stated.
“We are dismayed by the proliferation of illegal mercury-added products being offered for sale in both Shopee and Lazada shopping sites. It’s about time for these e-commerce sites to comply with the prohibition and regulation issued by the Food and Drug Administration,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner, BAN Toxics.
“The group further urges the DOH-FDA to conduct post-marketing surveillance for the two biggest online shopping platforms in the country and immediately call their attention to remove all mercury-added products that are prohibited and restricted,” BAN Toxics added.