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False Claims on Therapeutic Products


Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Darryl David
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC

Question No. 1618
To ask the Minister for Health whether the Government can provide an update regarding enforcement actions taken against those who purvey false claims that certain pharmaceutical products are efficacious in treating COVID-19.

Written Answer
The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) monitor websites and social media platforms, including online chatgroups, for false claims about the efficacy of certain pharmaceutical agents such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19.

Evidence to date shows that these agents are ineffective in treating COVID-19, and their use is in fact associated with serious health risks to patients. On 15 October 2021, MOH issued a media statement to call out these websites and platforms and to debunk the misinformation found there. On 24 October 2021, a Correction Direction order was also issued to the “Truth Warriors” website for false statements of fact and misleading information relating to COVID-19 treatments. Various subsequent clarifications and facts have also been published by the Government, and MOH and HSA have proactively put up consumer advisories on their websites to increase public awareness.

From February 2020 to January 2022, HSA detected and directed the removal of 740 listings of pharmaceutical agents on e-commerce platforms and social media apps claiming to be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19. More than 150 sellers were issued with a stern warning.

Sellers who falsely advertise pharmaceutical products as being able to prevent or treat COVID-19 are liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 12 months and/or fined up to $20,000 under the Health Products Act. Individuals who bring in such pharmaceutical products and distribute them for use without a doctor’s prescription, with the intent to treat COVID-19, can be taken to task as unlicensed medical practitioners under the Medical Registration Act. Registered medical practitioners who promote or prescribe such pharmaceutical products outside their approved indications and outside the scope of a clinical trial may be – and indeed some have already been – referred to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for disciplinary action.

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