KUALAL LUMPUR: SCORES of doctors, who are bound by their professional ethics and the Hippocratic Oath to protect lives, are abusing their licences to take a cut from the flourishing and lucrative illicit cosmetics industry.
Working in cahoots with profit-driven cosmetics manufacturers and sellers who abandon all safeguards designed to protect consumers from harm, these doctors are helping institute harmful beauty products through injections and intravenous drips — for a small fee, and no questions asked.
The New Straits Times’ Special Probes Team, which zeroed in on this mushrooming sector in a months-long, exhaustive investigation, had engaged scores of sellers and manufacturers in this small-medium scale, many illicit, yet openly done, cosmetics industry.
The in-depth probe began with a search on social media. The choices were endless but the team picked several sellers with thousands of followers. We applied the same line of questioning as their customers.
The seller was convincing in her pitch to the “diabetic patient, who wanted to have “porcelain-white skin”, who was also assured that the seller’s “high-strength whitening” product was a sure-fire way of getting the desired “alabaster” look.
“But I have to inject this product into my veins. How am I supposed to do that? Is this product even safe?” we asked.
She did not hesitate to vouch for its safety, referring the team to the list of testimonials on her Facebook page, the same testimonials that had convinced many uninformed Malaysians.
“Don’t worry, once you have made your payment, I will deliver the product in two weeks. Your package will come with a list of nurses and doctors, who will help you with the injection.”
She kept to her every word.
The team proceeded to call and visit the names on the list, including doctors running private clinics and government doctors allegedly offering such services from the privacy of their homes.
These medical practitioners charged between RM25 and RM40 for a jab of concoctions brought to them. The fee to institute the concoctions intravenously was anywhere between RM75 and RM150.
These doctors were registered with the Malaysian Medical Council and each had sworn to honour their profession’s Hippocratic Oath, which among others, read: -
“I will keep this Oath ... I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel ... Should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!”
With the results of our investigations and video evidence of our undercover work, the NST Special Probes Team sat down with officials from the Malaysian Medical Council, the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division and its Medical Practice Division.
These doctors, who also serve to regulate their colleagues through these regulatory bodies, were shocked to say the least, to witness the indiscretions carried out blatantly.
Multiple sit-downs, with evidence laid bare, led to the first-ever raid of its kind. Never before had enforcers knocked on the doors of clinics registered with the MMC, because its doctors were endangering the public’s health by knowingly injecting suspect cosmetic products into their “patients’” veins.