Amazon, eBay, Wish remove blood oxygen testing devices

Health, News

Amazon, eBay and Wish have removed a number of blood oxygen testing devices from sale after Which? found products that were not legally fit to be sold in the UK and, in some cases, falsely claimed to be NHS-approved.

The consumer watchdog found 11 out of 15 cheap pulse oximeters bought from online marketplaces for as little as 99p failed to comply with UK and EU law when it assessed them.

Pulse oximeters have become increasingly popular since the Covid-19 pandemic began. They measure oxygen levels in the blood which can drop to dangerously low levels without the patient noticing, in what is known as “silent hypoxia”. Pulse oximeters are being used by the NHS to assist vulnerable patients with home monitoring of Covid or post-Covid symptoms. Patients may be given a pulse oximeter by their GP.

The products that Which? analysed featured prominently in search listings, had lots of reviews and in some cases featured marketplace endorsement labels.

Which? found that one product being sold via the online marketplaces was missing its CE mark completely, while others had CE marks that failed to comply with Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance on required markings for a medical device. Some falsely claimed to be NHS-approved or used the NHS wording or logo to look more legitimate. This could potentially be a breach of consumer protection law.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Which?: “The NHS does not approve or endorse any medical devices, including oximeters.”

When Which? notified the marketplaces about the incorrect certification on the products it found, they took them down – although five devices had already disappeared from sale before the organisation contacted the marketplaces.

All of the pulse oximeters Which? tested passed its accuracy tests without any major issues, so they were able to measure the blood oxygen saturation of each of Which?’s panel with an acceptable error margin. However, buying from an unknown seller could come with risks, as the high number of uncertified models shows.

The lack of CE marking or the presence of a non-compliant CE mark on most of them could call into question the safety, quality and accuracy of these pulse oximeters as they may not be manufactured to the required standards or conform to the requirements of the medical device legislation.

Which? believes the government needs to do more to increase checks on products being sold online by bringing in tougher laws and regulations to make online marketplaces legally responsible for ensuring the safety of products offered through their sites. It is not good enough for online marketplaces to take down products reactively when they are flagged by Which?. 

Which? is sharing its findings with the MHRA and Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). Later this year the OPSS will be providing an update on its UK product safety review and this provides the perfect opportunity to give online marketplaces greater responsibility for vetting products sold on their sites. 

Says Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services:

“It is very concerning that our investigation found these medical devices for sale without the required safety markings or brazenly claiming to be approved by the NHS – and the biggest online marketplaces were not picking up on these red flags. 

“Which? believes the government needs to do more to protect consumers from a lack of effective safeguards when they are shopping online by bringing in tougher regulations for online marketplaces.

“Consumers should be wary of cheap oximeters sold on online marketplaces.”

Chris Price
For latest tech stories go to