The HSA has stepped – up their investigation into the business of health products, including test kits, that are supposed to serve as treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID – 19) with fraudulent claims. More than 1,700 product listings have been removed due to false and misleading claims, and over 1,600 warning letters have been issued to the sellers and companies making such products.
COVID-19 “Test Kits”
Test kits for COVID – 19 that are being sold illegally have been determined and more than 40 listings have been removed with the cooperation of online selling platforms such as Carousell, Lazada, Shopee, Ebay and Facebook. These products claim to have “positive results may be visible as soon as 2 minutes”, “95% accuracy and results within 10 minutes”, or “diagnose COVID – 19 within 10 minutes”. Furthermore, no test kits for home use have been approved. Only clinical laboratories or medical professionals are allowed to conduct testing to ensure accurate results. Self – directed use of unapproved test kits is highly discouraged because it can lead to false sense of security and consequently higher risk of spreading the disease.
Inaccurate Claims of Health Products
Health products have been also advertised by various companies with false and misleading claims as being able to prevent or fight against COVID – 19. Hundreds of online listings for such have been removed, which include health supplements, traditional medicines, herbal remedies, and probiotics. Most of these products are intended for maintaining general health and wellness. There is no scientific evidence to support that these products can help prevent or treat COVID – 19.
Body and hand sanitizers are also subject of fraudulent claims, such as “protects against coronavirus”, “kill viruses including coronavirus”, and “stops coronavirus”. It is strongly advised to wash hands with soap and water to reduce the spread of microorganisms. Hand sanitizers can be used as an alternative; however, they may not work well without prior washing of hands.
HSA’s Advisory to Consumers
The Group Director of the Health Products Regulation Group of HSA, Associate Professor Chan Cheng Leng, issued the following advisory: “Consumers should be aware that there are no HSA approved home-based test kits; no health supplements or herbal remedies, and no consumer devices approved for COVID-19 diagnosis or treatment. Do not fall for the marketing gimmicks of sellers and retailers. Not only do consumers waste money on these unproven remedies, they may put themselves and people around them at unnecessary risk due to the false sense of security.”
Active monitoring of the market for suspicious health products will continue and strict measures will be implemented on sellers and companies that make fraudulent claims. Vigilance and support from consumers are also highly encouraged by reporting through email at [email protected] or by phone at 6866 3485.
Sellers and dealers are reminded to refrain from making false and misleading claims about their products with regards to COVID – 19 prevention or treatment. They are also reminded that claims must be supported with scientific evidence via evaluation and registration with the HSA. Those who have been proven practicing such will be liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 12 months and/or fined up to $20,000. Those who are interested to deal with health products over the internet are encouraged to first get familiar with regulatory requirements or controls that may be applicable to them to prevent disobeying the law in Singapore.