How health supplements are regulated by HSA

Health supplements, Health supplements
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What are health supplements?

Health supplements are products taken to supplement one’s diet for supporting or enhancing health. They generally contain ingredients such as vitamins, minerals or substances derived from natural sources. Unlike medicines, they are not meant to prevent, treat, cure or alleviate symptoms of medical conditions and diseases.

Health supplements are products in dosage forms (e.g. tablets, capsules). Some examples of health supplements include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and glucosamine joint supplements.

What do I need to know about health supplements marketed in Singapore?

As ingredients used in health supplements are generally well-established through experience of safe use and are not intended for medicinal purposes, health supplements do not require approval and are not evaluated by HSA before they can be sold locally. Our regulatory approach for health supplements is similar to that adopted by the United States, European Union countries and Japan.

Although health supplements are not subject to evaluation, approvals or licensing, HSA has put in place safety and quality safeguards:

  • Prohibited substances - HSA prohibits the addition of medicinal ingredients such as steroids in health supplements. HSA also sets strict limits on toxic heavy metals in these products.
  • Product claims - Dealers (which include manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers) have to ensure that the product claims on labels and advertisements are not false or misleading, and their product advertisements do not make claims for treatment or prevention of diseases.
  • Post-market surveillance programme to monitor the safety of health supplements and to initiate timely product recalls - This includes random sampling of products in the market and adverse reaction monitoring, which draws on HSA’s network of healthcare professionals and international regulatory partners to pick up signals of adverse reactions to products.

Dealers are responsible for the safety and quality of their health supplements. They also have to ensure that their products meet HSA’s stipulated safety and quality standards. HSA will take the necessary actions should there be any safety or quality concerns detected with health supplements marketed locally. Members of the public will also be alerted on harmful products.

If you suspect that the product you are taking is making you unwell or causing side effects, please consult a doctor and bring along the product.

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