The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning to parents about the dangers of cheap digital thermometers that are being sold on the internet.
Over 400 fake thermometers were seized by the MHRA after two raids were carried out in England, in Harrow and Oxford.
The MHRA says the digital thermometers pose a significant risk to children, as they give inaccurate readings and could fail to spot high temperatures in those with serious illnesses, such as meningitis.
According to the Agency, some of the fake items are being sold for just 99 pence and are mainly available through online auction sites such as eBay.
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It was alerted to the problem when the parents of a young child with leukaemia used a digital thermometer they used online gave them a normal temperature reading.
However, the child had to be rushed to hospital for urgent medical care because they actually had a high temperature, which the thermometer failed to pick up.
The MHRA has now issued advice to parents – and the public in general – about what to look out for when buying a digital thermometer online.
It said devices that were counterfeit would have no recognised brand name and may not come with instructions, safety warnings, or the relevant CE markings.
Genuine products would also have a four digit ID number, to show that it had been properly safety tested.
Fake digital thermometers would not have this four digit code, the MHRA says.
Commenting on the scam, the Deputy Clinical Director of the MHRA, Dr Dr Nicola Lennard, said: “Inaccurate readings from cheap, fake thermometers could result in a delay to a child getting the medical treatment they need and it is vital that people do not buy or use cheap, unapproved medical devices.
“The MHRA is working with internet sites to ensure that fake medical devices are not sold to people, and we urge the public to report faulty medical devices.”
The seizure of the digital thermometers is part of a much wider operation the MHRA is carrying out into counterfeit healthcare products.
It has already obtained three fake Slendertone belts, which are used to tone the abdominal muscles, and a number of Kiddicare cool pads.
The MHRA is asking people to report suspected fake healthcare products to its Adverse Incident Hotline on 020 3080 6080.
This can also be done through its website, http://www.mhra.gov.uk/.
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