NO APPROVED Therapeutic Claim

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In the Philippines, manufacturers of supplements do not need to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration in marketing a dietary supplements. In addition, companies can also claim that their product addresses a nutrient deficiency in the body. The use of the disclaimer “No Approved Therapeutic Claim” is also being abused by various owners, advertisers and agents of food/dietary supplements. Thus, there is a growing public concern due to the inaccurate, misleading and false claims on the efficacy of some of the supplements that care in the market today.

In March, the Department of Health issued Administrative Order (AO) 2010-0008 to provide directives specific to the change in the use of the message or phrase “NO APPROVED THERAPEUTIC CLAIM” in all advertisement, promotion and/or sponsorship activities or materials concerning Food/Dietary Supplements with the end view of promoting and protecting the consumers’ health and welfare and fostering their right to proper information and education to facilitate sound choice.

According to then Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, the DOH is duty bound to protect the general public from any false information. She said that the use of the message or phrase “No Approved Therapeutic Claim” shall no longer be allowed; instead all food/dietary supplement owners, manufacturers, distributors, importers, exporters, advertisers and/or their agents are obligated to strictly enforce the standard message in Filipino which will be “MAHALAGANG PAALALA: ANG (name of product) AY HINDI GAMOT AT HINDI DAPAT GAMITING PANGGAMOT SA ANUMANG URI NG SAKIT.” This is an essential step in protecting our people who may erroneously mistake these products as medicines,” she added.

Because of its strong and forceful translation in Filipino language, herbal companies, particularly the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (CHPI), protested the implementation of the AO. They claimed that no consultation was made and that due process was not upheld in the implementation of the AO. They brought the case to court.

On May 28, Judge Lilia Purugganan of the Manila Regional Trial Court (MTC) Branch 30, issued a preliminary injunction granting the request of the CHPI. According to Purungganan, the new mandatory label will condition the minds of the people that CHPI’s products are of no value at all. The court also stated that “there is the danger of erosion of confidence of the public towards food/dietary supplements on the account of the misconception or the misperception that the AO will produce.” Is this another case of the wealth of the multinationals prevailing over the health of the people?

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