Food supplement firms agree to BFAD review of ads

Arnold Alindada, an inspector of BFAD told reporters on Thursday that advertisers of the food supplements have entered into an initial agreement for a review of their advertisements following complaints of deceptive promotions in the media.

The agreement would subject the ad materials to a review by the Department of Health, which could also recommend revisions before it will be sent to the press, Alindada said. The review would end up with the BFAD as a DOH agency regulating food and drugs.

Although he said that there was no local and national law “specifically providing guidelines regulating advertisements of these products that have proliferated around”, Alindada said some of the manufacturers and distributors themselves “suggested the move seeking the authorities' guidance on the matter”.

He added that some also “verbally agreed” on the DOH review and to draft a set of guidelines that could be binding on them 

The initial agreement came about during a meeting the BFAD had with food supplement manufactures and distributors “to clarify differences between a drug and a food supplement”.

The meeting was prompted by complaints from the public about alleged issues concerning truth in advertising the products. Alindada said that the manner testimonies were being presented in favor of the product have generated complaints for allegedly making false therapeutic claims.  

He said both BFAD and the DOH have monitored ads that impress to the public the products had therapeutic value. He cited radio and television ads depicting those taking the food supplements as having been cured of their ailments after regular intake of the products.

Physicians have also reported that some patients have ceased taking maintenance medicine for hypertension and diabetes due to a "feeling" that food supplements, as presented in ads, have cured them.

Although there was no law yet governing advertisement of food supplements, Alindada said that food supplement companies “should consult the DOH first on these ads against false claims".

He said the BFAD has planned to make lobbying at the Davao City Council for a local ordinance to regulate the industry's promotions saying that food supplement advertisements in the city would have its influence in the local market.

He cited the city government of Cebu which came up with its own ordinance regulating the ads in local media outlets. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)