Triwik Kurniasari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 11/15/2008 10:54 AM
The national food and drugs regulator has released a list of 22 performance-enhancing drugs and supplements banned because of their alleged side effects.
A series of tests found the products contained chemical substances and should be categorized as prescription drugs, not as jamu (herbal medicine) or food supplements, head of the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM), Husniah Rubiana Thamrin Akib, said Friday.
"The producers claimed and registered those products as purely herbal medicines, while in fact the items were mixed with prescription drugs. It is very dangerous," Husniah said.
"All products contain sildenafil citrate, which can cause headache, nausea and even death, and tadalafil, which can cause stroke."
Among the banned products are six imported items -- five herbal medicine products and a food supplement -- and four products with fake registry numbers. The imported items are from China.
Blue Moon and Tripoten are two of the banned products.
As of today, the agency has found more than 208,000 boxes and 1,095 packs of various listed products in 16 provinces across the country. More than 157,000 boxes were found in Jakarta, Husniah said.
"It is just a provisional number because we are still conducting inspections in some parts of the capital and many other cities across the country," she said.
"We found many of those products in Jakarta because the city is the biggest market for the drug and supplement producers.
"Besides that, the performance-enhancing drugs and supplements are more affordable for Jakartans than for people who live in villages, for instance."
In a drug store in Jakarta, a box of a performance-enhancing drugs sells for more than Rp 25,000 (US$2).
Husniah warned producers, distributors and retailers to stop producing and selling the items, adding that those failing to comply with the ban could face up to five years' imprisonment and Rp 100 million (US$) to Rp 2 billion in fines.
If members of the public find these products for sale, they can report them to BPOM by phone (021) 4263333 or to their nearest provincial food and monitoring agency.
Meanwhile, Thomas Darmawan, chairman of the Indonesian Food and Beverages Producers Association, said the products should have been subject to laboratory tests by the National Committee of Accreditation before the list was made public.
"Although BPOM is an institution owned by the government and it can conduct research, it actually only has authority to monitor and educate producers about making good products," Thomas said.
He said the committee had higher authority than BPOM.
"If producers claim they are not breaking the law, they should have a chance to prove that. But if they are proved wrong, they should face penalties," he said.