Blood oxygen devices that do not meet UK legal standards have been sold on the web, an investigation has found. Amazon and eBay are among the major online retailers that sold the “unfit” machines.
The devices, called pulse oximeters, measure blood oxygen levels and are known to detect silent hypoxia. This is where oxygen levels drop to dangerously low levels.
As it was a condition associated with Covid-19, sales of blood oxygen devices increased during the pandemic. As reported by The Times, a survey conducted by Which? studied retail oximeters from just 99 pence available on eBay, Amazon and Wish.
Which ? The team found that 11 out of 15 pulse oximeters did not comply with UK and EU legislation and were not stamped with the regulatory markings required for medical devices. This means they were not legally fit to be sold in the UK.
Pulse oximeters must bear the CE seal which shows that a manufacturer has done due diligence and that the products meet safety, health and environmental standards. However, which one? discovered missing CE marks.
Some devices not only bore the familiar NHS logo, despite having no affiliation with the health service, but also falsely claimed to be NHS approved. The standard cost of a working, legally compliant oximeter is around £20.
However, eBay sold a device called UK Fingertip Pulse Oximeter for 99p. This device also did not bear the CE mark.
Natalie Hitchins from who? said: “It is very concerning that our investigation found these medical devices for sale without the required safety markings or brazenly claiming to be NHS approved – and the biggest online marketplaces were not picking up on these red flags.” In an effort to protect consumers, Ms. Hitchens is urging the government to put in place stricter requirements.
Although eBay and Amazon have removed non-compliant devices that lack the legally required certification, campaigners are pushing for online retailers to be held accountable for stock security. eBay said: “We have strict policies in place to regulate the sale of medical devices and have removed the single listing reported by Which? that did not comply with these policies.
A statement from Amazon said: “We have proactive measures in place to prevent suspicious or non-compliant products from being listed and we are monitoring products sold in our stores for product safety issues.”