Fined for selling codeine-based cough syrup without proper customer records

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Singapore has been battling to keep drugs out of the country since independence and in 1973, the law is enacted to punish those that break these laws with heavy punishments including long term imprisonment, canes and capital punishments.

So what do these drug addicts do? They abused medication by taking them excessively to resemble the “kick” they have while taking drugs. Of course, when there are buyers, there will be sellers as well.

A recent case that one register pharmacist, William Woo Tat Meng, sole proprietor of Community Pharmacy at Bukit Timah Plaza who illegally sold codeine-based cough syrup to customers with falsified records to keep his bad deed under the radar of the law enforcement. But soon his act is caught after HSA officers stopped a 42-year-old man on 23rd April 2015 at 3 pm where he has procured 14 bottles of 120ml Dhasedyl syrup which he paid 20 dollars for each bottle.

What is Codeine?

“Codeine is a pain reliever and cough suppressant which is a relatively mild opiate. It is often found in prescription-strength cough syrups, or in a combination formulation with various other analgesics (for example, with acetaminophen). However, it is also often abused due to its euphoric side effects and an addictive drug with potentially dangerous effects at high dosages.”

He sold 220,440 bottles containing more than 2,450 litres of Dhasedyl syrup to customers over a period of nearly two years from May 2013 until April 2015! That is a alarming sales ! He was finally caught red-handed. He has made a profit of at least S$ 244,529 from selling the syrup. However, he has admitted that he has been selling Dhasedyl syrup for about 10 years.

Under the Singapore Poisons Act, pharmacists are not allowed to sell more than 240ml of codeine cough syrup to a customer at any one time. They also have to record the name and identity card number of the customer, and the quantity of codeine cough syrup sold daily in a book that is kept solely for this purpose.

The 58-year-old sole proprietor was jailed for eight months and three weeks, becoming the first pharmacist to be found guilty of improper selling of codeine under the law.

Under the Poisons Act, offenders could have faced up to two year’s in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 per charge.

Seeking Help For Drug Addicts

Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA)
2 Sengkang Square, Sengkang Community Hub, #05-01
Singapore 545025
Tel: 6732 1122
Fax: 6732 4564
Email: sana@sana.org.sg
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri from 8.30am to 10.00pm

National Addictions Management Services (NAMS)
Block 9 (Level 1), Buangkok Green Medical Park
10 Buangkok View
Singapore 539747
Tel: 6-7326837 (6-RECOVER) (24 hours helpline), 6389 2000 (General Enquiries)
Email: nams@imh.com.sg (general enquiries)

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