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Advisory on products claiming to prevent or treat COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

Consumer, Healthcare professional, Industry member, General safety
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The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) advises consumers against purchasing health products locally or online that claim to prevent or treat COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

It has come to HSA’s attention that sellers of some health products, including health supplements and herbs, are claiming that their products can prevent or treat COVID-19. Consumers should be wary of such claims.

Consumers should bear in mind:

  • There is currently no evidence that any health supplement, Chinese proprietary medicine, traditional medicine or herb can boost the immune system specifically to help prevent, protect against or treat COVID-19.

     

  • Advertising claims of “scientific evidence” cannot be verified. Some dealers may claim that their products have been developed based on “scientific studies” and “evidence” to kill or stop the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. Such claims often lack a robust scientific basis and cannot be verified, especially where emerging diseases such as COVID-19 are concerned.

     

  • Avoid buying health products from unknown websites, online forums, blog shops and flyers sent via email, and unlicensed or unknown pharmacies. Their operators are usually unknown and unreliable, and you cannot be certain where and how these products were made.  They could be fake, adulterated with harmful ingredients, or otherwise unsafe. They could also be of poor quality, or manufactured under unhygienic conditions.

     

  • Report any suspicious sale or advertising of health products, especially those which claim to prevent or treat COVID-19 to HSA through email at hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg or phone at 68663485, or to the respective website administrators.

INFORMATION FOR DEALERS & SELLERS

HSA reminds dealers and sellers not to make false and misleading claims that the products they are selling can prevent, protect against or treat diseases such as COVID-19.

Dealers and sellers are also reminded that health products sold directly to consumers cannot make any claim or reference to a specific infection or claim effectiveness against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, unless approved by HSA.

Any claim made in relation to COVID-19 must be supported by the appropriate scientific evidence. For example, claims that imply clinical benefit in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 requires evidence of their effectiveness from human clinical studies, and such products must first be evaluated and registered with HSA. They would typically be regulated as therapeutic products.

HSA will take the necessary enforcement actions if there are contraventions against the relevant laws. Sellers who falsely advertise products as preventing or treating COVID-19 are liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 12 months and/or fined up to $20,000.

HSA reminds those who intend to deal in medicines or health products over the Internet to first check and familiarise themselves with any regulatory requirements or controls that may be applicable to them, so as to avoid inadvertently contravening the law in Singapore.

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