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In brief

On 10 May 2024, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued an update on products found and reported by overseas regulators to contain potent ingredients prohibited in such products and which may lead to side effects.


Key takeaways

  • To better protect local consumers from harmful health products that may be found overseas and online, not only does the HSA conduct surveillance on health products found locally, it also monitors overseas enforcement actions . The HSA then issues updates for consumers on products that may pose a threat to public health.
  • The HSA’s close monitoring of noncompliant health products abroad and of overseas regulators’ actions indicates that potential noncompliance in other jurisdictions may lead to knock-on risks in Singapore (e.g., negative publicity and potential perception in Singapore that the health products are adulterated). This shows that regulators may share information with each other and keep abreast of other regulators’ actions.
  • Sellers and suppliers of health products should note that anyone who supplies adulterated health products in Singapore may face a fine of up to SGD 100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

In more detail

The HSA published a consolidated list of health products, ranging from sexual wellness to cosmetic products, that were found and reported by health regulators overseas (including regulators in Thailand, the United States, Canada and Hong Kong) to contain potent ingredients.

The HSA also provided a brief explanation of the possible side effects of the potent ingredients found in these health products. The full list of health products and their respective side effects can be found here.

The HSA has advised members of the public to refrain from purchasing these products when overseas and to exercise caution when buying health products online or from unfamiliar sources (especially from overseas suppliers), regardless of whether they were recommended by friends or relatives. It also warns consumers to be careful of products guaranteeing quick and miraculous results or making exaggerated claims (e.g., “100% safe” or “no side effects”), as well as products that produce unexpected quick recovery from medical conditions.

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Author

Andy Leck is the head of the Intellectual Property and Technology (IPTech) Practice Group and a member of the Dispute Resolution Practice Group in Singapore. He is a core member of Baker McKenzie's regional IP practice and also leads the Myanmar IP Practice Group. Andy is recognised by reputable global industry and legal publications as a leader in his field. He was named on "The A-List: Singapore's Top 100 lawyers" by Asia Business Law Journal 2018. In addition, Chambers Asia Pacific notes that Andy is "a well-known IP practitioner who is highlighted for his record of handling major trade mark litigation, as well as commercial exploitation of IP rights in the media and technology sectors. He's been in the industry for a long time and has always been held in high regard. He is known to be very fair and is someone you would like to be in the trenches with you during negotiations." Furthermore, Asian Legal Business acknowledges Andy as a leading practitioner in his field and notes that he “always gives good, quick advice, [is] client-focused and has strong technical knowledge for his areas of practice.” Andy was appointed by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) as an IP Adjudicator to hear disputes at IPOS for a two-year term from April 2021. He has been an appointed member of the Singapore Copyright Tribunal since May 2010 and a mediator with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center. He is also appointed as a Notary Public & Commissioner for Oaths in Singapore. He previously served on the International Trademark Association’s Board of Directors and was a member of the executive committee.

Author

Ren Jun Lim is a principal with Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. He represents local and international clients in both contentious and non-contentious intellectual property matters. He also advises on a full range of healthcare, as well as consumer goods-related legal and regulatory issues. Ren Jun co-leads Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow's Healthcare as well as Consumer Goods & Retail industry groups. He sits on the Law Society of Singapore IP Committee and on the Executive Committee of the Association of Information Security Professionals. He is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group, Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries, a member of the International Trademark Association, as well as a member of the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Association. Ren Jun is ranked in the Silver tier for Individuals: Enforcement and Litigation and Individuals: Prosecution and Strategy, and a recommended lawyer for Individuals: Transactions by WTR 1000, 2020. He is also listed in Asia IP's Best 50 IP Expert, 2020, recognised as a Rising Star by Managing IP: IP Stars, 2019 and one of Singapore's 70 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under by Singapore Business Review, 2016. Ren Jun was acknowledged by WTR 1000 as a "trademark connoisseur who boasts supplementary knowledge of regulatory issues in the consumer products industry." He was also commended by clients for being "very responsive to enquiries and with a keen eye for detail, he is extremely hands-on. His meticulous and in-depth approach to strategising is key to the excellent outcomes we enjoy."

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