Medsafe compliance team leader Derek Fitzgerald said that these drugs were ceased at Auckland International Airport following a covert surveillance operation by Medsafe and Customs officers. Charges were laid against the importers and the exporters under the Medicines Act, including supplying medicines that are unproven in New Zealand and supplying medicines not through an authorized pharmacy or a pharmacist.
These drugs were being sold to the New Zealand public after being imported privately and advertised through a Chinese language website over the past 18 months. They were mainly prescription medicines and may affect the health if taken without proper diagnosis and advice from a doctor. Ms Poutasi said that Medsafe stopped any further supply of the medicines and all known supplies were seized by Health Ministry officers.
In New Zealand it is illegal to be in possession of a prescription-only medicine without having obtained a prescription. Medsafe said the medicines were labelled in Chinese characters and appeared to have originated in China. Two were emergency contraceptives, three were abortion pills and one was a contraceptive pill. The drugs may cause heavy vaginal bleeding, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
So far the ministry had not yet received any reports of people who had suffered adverse reactions from taking the drugs. The ministry said that with the advent of the Internet, people easily paid for prescription drugs without prescriptions, and many people were not aware that this was illegal. But Mr Fitzgerald said that those who have medical concerns after taking the drugs should not hesitate to contact their doctors, who would treat their enquiries confidentially.