Health experts have warned online shoppers to beware of internet-order medicines some of which have been found to contain everything from arsenic to bird droppings.
Fake medicines, such as those claiming to be Viagra, intercepted by Medsafe at New Zealand's border included major ingredient guano i.e. bat and bird droppings while others contained whole insects, dust mites, hair and charcoal, according to GNS Science principal scientist Dallas Mildenhall.
Screening by Environmental Science and Research (ESR) also found heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Otago University researcher Dr Clare Strachan warned buyers, getting cheap deals online, often received counterfeit medicines that could lead to serious consequences.
A recent study by Strachan found some medicines even contained a completely different drug and cited the case of a man in Singapore who died after consuming a counterfeit erectile dysfunction drug, which actually contained diabetes medication.
Medsafe compliance management manager Derek Fitzgerald said: "Counterfeit medicines are, of course, not subject to the comprehensive assessment that approved medicines must go through before they can be supplied in New Zealand."
Medsafe added: "It is also alarming that New Zealanders would choose to source a medicine from another country without any consultation with a doctor and without any guarantees as to the quality, safety and efficacy of the medicine."