S. Korea bans overseas direct purchase of artificial tears

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : June 29, 2020, 10:40 | Updated : June 29, 2020, 10:40

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SEOUL -- South Korea's public health watchdog took action to stop the sale of artificial tears through overseas direct purchase, citing a relevant law which bans the online distribution of drugs, in accordance with a public petition calling for an aseptic test to see whether such products in circulation were safe.

Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops used to relieve dryness and irritation of the ocular surface. Those who wear contact lenses or have undergone eye surgeries are at increased risk of having dry eyes. The most common side effect of artificial tears is temporary blurry vision. Allergic reactions have been reported and are associated with itchy or swollen eyes, dizziness, and breathing problems.

Acting on a public petition, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety detected 215 online sites that sell artificial tears through overseas direct purchase and requested the Korea Communications Standards Commission, a state internet censorship body, and internet shopping malls to block them. The ministry said drugs such as artificial tears are not allowed to be sold online.

In a test of microbial contamination, the ministry found that 49 artificial tears, including 43 home-made and six imported products, which have been sold in the first half of this year at home were all suitable. "As we have confirmed the safety of artificial tears in domestic distribution, consumers are advised to use them with confidence," the ministry said in a statement.

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