By Angelica Y. Yang, Reporter
SHOPEE Philippines said that it does not tolerate the sale of prohibited items and products flagged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adding that it complies with local regulations in markets, amid reports of mercury-containing medical devices on the e-commerce platform.
“We comply with local regulations in every market where we operate and require our sellers to be compliant with both local regulations and our own stringent policies,” it added.
Toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition previously pointed out that four e-commerce platforms, including Shopee, hosted “numerous ads” which sold mercury devices through third-party dealers based in the Philippines and China.
A day before the 9.9 sale, Shopee, MyBenta.com, Carousell and Lazada showed a total of 15 product listings for mercury sphygmomanometers, which measure blood pressure, the group said. Meanwhile, Lazada and Shopee had seven listings for mercury thermometers.
EcoWaste Coalition, which described mercury as a “highly toxic” chemical, said it was “deeply concerned” since the online sale of mercurial sphygmomanometers and thermometers went against the phaseout provisions for these devices under a Department of Health (DoH) Administrative Order issued in 2008, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, of which the Philippines is a signatory.
The DoH order, signed by Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, ordered all hospitals to immediately discontinue the distribution of mercury thermometers, and follow guidelines for the gradual phasing-out of mercury in healthcare facilities.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury classified mercury-containing sphygmomanometers and thermometers among the non-electronic devices whose manufacture and trade were phased-out in 2020.
After EcoWaste Coalition released its statement, Shopee took down nine product listings with mercury-containing devices.
“We also take proactive measures to blacklist any related keywords to intercept new attempts to sell such items on our platform. When, in isolated cases, some listings have still managed to evade these screening processes, immediate action is taken,” Shopee said.
In a separate statement on Thursday, MyBenta.com told BusinessWorld that it had already taken down the “products in question.”
“We continue to work with environmental groups to ensure that our platform is free of toxic products,” MyBenta.com said in an e-mail. It cited, for instance, that it removed harmful mining products when EcoWaste Coalition brought them to its attention.
Earlier this year, e-commerce platforms held a dialogue with government agencies that gave them a list of brand and products deemed harmful to ramp up screening measures, according to MyBenta.com.
“When removing dangerous products on our site, we rely on reports and lists of harmful chemicals available on [government] website,” it added.
Meanwhile, Carousell said on Thursday that it had taken down the product listings which EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
“In accordance with FDA’s latest edict on the banning of mercury-containing medical devices, listings of mercury-containing medical devices are strictly prohibited on Carousell. Carousell has proactively and swiftly removed any such listings from its marketplace,” it told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.
It added that it monitors its marketplace through “manual and automated” means, and works closely with authorities and partners, including EcoWaste Coalition, to keep its users safe from harmful products.
Lazada has yet to reply to follow-up questions regarding the inclusion of mercury-containing medical devices in its online shopping channel. As of press time, the nine product listings flagged by EcoWaste Coalition are still up on its platform.