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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spot checks for illegal medical ads

The Medicine Advertisements Board is going after errant hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.
PETALING JAYA: The Medicine Advertisements Board (MAB) has warned medical and health providers that it is stepping up action against establishments that violate the legal restrictions on the advertising of drugs and services.
In a letter to various medical and pharmaceutical associations, MAB said it was carrying out a three-month campaign of surprise checks on private hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other such premises to ensure compliance with the Medicines (Advertising and Sale) Act of 1956 (Revised 1983)and the Medicine Advertisements Board Regulations of 1976.
The letter, dated March 1, said enforcement officers would examine advertising materials displayed at these premises and would book their owners if they went against the restrictions of the law.
The act prohibits advertising related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of 20 diseases, including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and loss of sexual function.
Muhammad Lukmani Ibrahim, the deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division, told FMT today that MAB was working closely with the Malaysian Medical Council and the Private Medical Practice Control Bureau in the enforcement effort.
Apart from the surprise checks, enforcement officers were also studying advertisements in the printed media, Lukmani said.
First-time offenders of the act face a fine of up to RM3,000 or a year’s jail or both. For a subsequent offence, the fine can go up to RM5,000 and the jail term is two years.
The 1976 regulations require all advertisements from the industry to carry MAB’s stamp of approval.
Lukmani said the boom in the healthcare industry had resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of applications for approval of advertisements.
“We have now shortened the time to approve applications from six weeks to only five working days,” he added.
He said applicants needed only to fill up some forms, which are available at www.pharmacy.gov.my.

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