Misleading advertising of food supplements faces crackdown
(VNS) The deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Viet Nam Food Administration, Nguyen Thanh Phong, spoke to the newspaper Hai Quan (Customs) about false advertising of healthcare products.
What are the conse-quences of false advertising of healthcare products, especially health supplements?
According to the current Law on Advertising, it must be conducted on the principle of accuracy and truth. It's illegal to lie about or exaggerate the benefits of a product.
For healthcare products and especially supplements, these principles are more important because they can have a direct effect on people's health, and their pockets.
Many cases of false advertising have been exposed in the past, including those for health supplements, to treat HIV and cancer, and magnetic bracelets to treat high blood pressure.
The Health Ministry has sent a request to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism so that all healthcare-related advertisements are reviewed in accordance with regulations of the laws on food safety, pharmaceuticals, and medical treatment.
Why does false advertising still occur, despite clear regulations outlined by the Law on Food Safety?
Advertisements that are reviewed by the Viet Nam Food Administration conform with regulations, but some advertisers try to avoid the agency's inspections.
Inspectors have worked on many violations but they can only punish enterprises that trade in the health supplements, not the advertising companies, including the media and publishing houses. That makes it difficult to prevent violations from the beginning.
There are four reasons false advertising still occurs.
Firstly, enterprises want to sell their products for higher prices so they deliberately mislead customers.
Secondly, punishments are weak. Fines of VND5-10 million (US$235-470) are not enough of a deterrent.
Thirdly, some advertising agencies are not registered with authorities.
Lastly, there is a lack of co-operation between relevant agencies in the healthcare sector.
What measures are being taken to limit these violations?
The most important thing is to ensure regulations for healthcare products are followed strictly.
We also need to enhance co-operation between the health and communications sectors to inspect and punish agencies that break the rules.
The Health Ministry will submit a decree to the Government on administrative punishments so that fines are increased and business licences revoked. — VNS