Safer Decisions, Better Health

Buying online? You might not be getting what you paid for – and worse, it may be unsafe

Online shopping through auction sites and social media may be convenient, but it may be difficult to tell who the sellers really are, and whether the health products or services are safe.

Video courtesy of the Health Sciences Authority (HSA)


Beware of these signs!

  • Unbelievable headlines
  • Unusual formatting
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Images that don’t match content
  • Celebrity endorsements that just don’t seem right
  • Website addresses that are slightly wrong

What is the harm?

  • The products may contain dangerous ingredients.

    False and illegal health products (such as contact lenses, pills and liquids) likely contain dangerous and harmful ingredients. These can cause serious side effects or complications such as diarrhoea, headache, pain, skin rashes, swelling of hands and feet, vomiting – and even death. Using these products can worsen your, or your loved ones’ medical conditions, and delay timely treatment.

  • The procedure may go wrong, and the advice may cause you more harm.

    Unqualified persons are not trained to provide safe or effective care. They may even use dangerous products in the treatments that they offer. These may lead to hospitalisation, lifelong scarring, infections – and even death. Using these services can worsen your, or loved ones’ medical conditions, and delay timely treatment.

  • If anything goes wrong, you may not be able to find the seller. 

    Anyone can set up an online platform such as a website, online auction or social media account (e.g. Facebook and Instagram). It is almost impossible to keep track of online sellers as their sites may pop up one day only to disappear the next. You may not be able to contact them for help, send a complaint or even get your money back when something goes wrong.

Protect yourself, and your loved ones

  • Don’t place price or convenience over your health, think twice when shopping online.
  • Buy your medicines from licensed clinics, pharmacies and established retail stores.
  • Check that medical treatments are being done by a registered healthcare professional or at a licensed healthcare premises.
  • Always talk to your doctor or dentist if you have questions about your health, or your loved ones’ health.

See more tips here!

What to do when problems arise?

Adapted from HSA’s Dangers of Buying Health Products Online

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