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Dubious dietary supplements pervade market, experts warn

Update: March, 20/2012 - 10:13

 

Customers shop for dietary supplements at a fair in HCM City. About 3,700 dietary supplements are currently on sale in Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo The Anh
HCM CITY — Many dietary supplements make false claims, including about being a panacea, but are still allowed to advertise widely, experts said.

Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Huu Duc, a lecturer at the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, said dietary supplements were just that and were not drugs.

Some can also have adverse effects, he said.

Nguyen Van Vinh, head of the Medicine Office at the HCM City Department of Health, said low costs, lax regulations, and higher profits compared with drug manufacturing fuelled the strong growth of the dietary supplements industry.

Manufacturers and distributors spend a lot money on advertising in newspapers and television and offer large margins to big pharmacies in HCM City.

Huynh Le Thai Hoa, head of the city's Food Safety and Hygiene Division, said lenient law on dietary supplements was the reason behind the mushrooming of such products.

"Low awareness among people meant claims that the dietary supplements could cure diseases are easily believed," he said.

He also blamed the media for its failure to carefully examine the contents of the advertisements they carry.

Around 3,700 dietary supplement products are now sold in the market by more than 1,600 manufacturers and importers compared to a mere 60 products in 2000, according to the Viet Nam Association of Dietary Supplements.

While in 2007 imported products accounted for 65 per cent of the market, domestically-manufactured products have become predominant now to account for 65 per cent of the market. — VNS

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