Still no law on what makers can say pills do
The Consumer Council and doctors have called on the government to step up the regulation of health supplements.
At the moment, health food and dietary supplements are not classified as medicine and therefore are not subject to regulation by the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance or the Chinese Medicine Ordinance.
But in 2005 the Legislative Council passed an amendment to the Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance prohibiting six groups of claims.
They cover the regulation of body sugar or glucose, blood pressure, blood lipid or cholesterol, the genito-urinary system, the endocrine system and breast lumps.
Claims relating to slimming or body-fat reduction, regulation of the immune system against diseases and the promotion of detoxification were taken out of the original proposal by the government at the later stage of the deliberations.
Also, although the bill was passed nearly two years ago, the enactment date of the amendment was not fixed because the government said it wanted to wait for the registration system for proprietary Chinese medicines.
'Now the public is completely without protection from exaggerated claims for health supplements,' medical sector lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said.
'The government drags on the enactment of the amendments.
'Even when they are enacted, I don't think the ordinance can provide sufficient regulation because of the great variety of health supplements on the market.'
Consumer Council deputy chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing accused the government of not doing enough to regulate health supplements.
She was disappointed that it took out three claims and said it should review regulation on more claims.
Hong Kong University associate professor Yuen Man-fung called for more education about supplements and said if people were healthy they did not need to take them.