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Measures to ensure Suppliers’ Compliance with Regulations for Health Supplements

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Ng Ling Ling
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC

Question No. 1554

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what process does the Ministry adopt to ensure that providers of health supplement products comply with the Health Products (Advertisement of Specified Health Products) Regulations and that those who make false claims are taken to task, especially the recalcitrant ones, so as to protect the public; and (b) how many cases of infringements have there been in each of the last five years.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Wan Rizal
MP for Jalan Besar GRC

Question No. 1563

To ask the Minister for Health given the recent case where a health supplement company is fined for making false cancer cure claims (a) whether the Ministry is working with media outlets to regulate such claims in advertisements; and (b) what is the Ministry’s stand on companies that promote such claims.

Written Answer

Under the Medicines Act, anyone who publishes false and misleading advertisements relating to medicinal products or prohibited claims that the product will prevent, alleviate or cure specified diseases, can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed up to two years.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) therefore monitors the advertisements of health supplements, directs companies to comply with the Act, and holds them responsible for their advertising and marketing activities. Generally, a light-touch approach is adopted for first-time offenders, while stricter enforcement actions are taken for recalcitrant cases. In deciding whether prosecution is warranted, HSA also considers whether there is evidence that consumers had been harmed or that the supplements marketed were harmful. Over the last five years, HSA has reviewed 243 advertisements relating to claims made for health supplements. 182 advisories and warnings have been issued and advertisers have been directed to take corrective actions such as ceasing and rectifying the offending advertisements. Prosecution action was taken against one recalcitrant advertiser which had made prohibited claims.

For recalcitrant cases, apart from the penalties imposed by the court, HSA will actively publicise these cases and also engage key media outlets to publicise the prosecution outcome to educate and warn consumers against falling prey to these companies’ misleading claims.

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