Increased Regulations on Health Supplements in Singapore

The recent recall of over 200 health care products in Singapore has caused the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to investigate ways to strengthen their regulatory control of health care products, particularly, health supplements. On May 9, 2003, the HSA recalled products produced by Pan Pharmaceuticals Limited of Australia due to manufacturer’s defects.

Although the Singaporean health supplement market is estimated to be worth over S$300 million (US$172 million), the import or sale of health supplements in Singapore does not require licenses. In most cases, package labels offer minimal information regarding the product’s manufacturer, often including only the importer’s name.

In response to the recent events surrounding health supplements in Singapore, the HSA is currently finalizing several revisions to their regulations to increase control over these products. These include:

  • Increased measures to detect and remove potentially harmful products from the market and to ensure good product standards and distribution practices without hindering consumer access to health supplement products.
  • Designing a new framework that will include pre-market product assessment. This will require all health supplements imported and sold in Singapore to be in compliance with specified safety and quality requirements. The parameters for safety and quality would include limits on toxic heavy metals and microbes as well as product testing. The goals for these requirements will be to prevent the entry of unsafe and inferior health products into the country.
  • Increased control of dealers and distributors of health supplements, allowing effective and quick withdrawals of substandard products from the market.
  • Regulation of product labels and advertisements to ensure that only accurate and appropriate information is made available to consumers.