Singapore: New Guidance on Disease Awareness Campaigns

In November 2004, Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) released new guidelines on Disease Awareness Campaigns (DACs). For companies who produce drugs for rare diseases, DACs are a convenient way for companies to educate the public about a disease and its various treatment options through advertisements. However, a company may only provide non-biased information, with no emphasis on particular medications or treatment options. Additionally, since the intended use of DACs is to raise public awareness and knowledge about the conditions and treatments of diseases (as opposed to advertising a specific medication or treatment), it is not necessary to obtain pre-approval or advertisement licenses from the HSA.

DAC advertisements should meet the following three requirements: (1) make no mention of any brand of medication, (2) do not promote any particular medicinal product or recommend consumers to ask their health professionals for any particular product, and (3) only provide factual, up-to-date and substantiated information. In the case where there is only one treatment option, or a new treatment has recently been released, companies must make certain that they continue to focus on the general education of the disease. The HSA will continually monitor DACs and has the authority to stop a DAC if it does not follow the above guidelines.

Alternatively, companies may also indirectly advertise a particular prescription only medicine (POM), though this type of advertising cannot be done in the form of a DAC and requires approval from the HSA. The HSA released this new guideline to ensure that companies adhere to the DAC advertisement conditions as stated above, and do not attempt to indirectly advertise a POM in the form of a DAC advertisement.