Coalition plans tough action against amendment to regulate product claims Health-product makers and sellers yesterday threatened to escalate their opposition to the government's proposed bill to regulate advertising. The Legislative Council's Bills Committee yesterday voted to let the government proceed with drafting the amendment, aimed at regulating health-care adverts that make claims about medical benefits. The industry group, which calls itself the Undesirable Medicine Advertisement Ordinance Coalition, said it was planning more radical action against the government move, but gave no details. The proposed law follows sharp increases in the number of unregulated health and herbal products. Its regulations would cover products that claim to influence body sugar or glucose, blood pressure, blood lipid or cholesterol levels, or to prevent, eliminate or treat breast lumps. Products claiming to maintain or alter hormonal levels would also be covered. The Legco committee yesterday discussed wording that would be allowed on product labels under the proposed law. It was originally proposed that no medical claims could be made, but the government said yesterday it was willing to relax this restriction. While a label could not claim health benefits such as lowering high blood pressure, for example, it could mention the medical condition in a neutral way. At a press conference after the Legco meeting, the coalition said it opposed the amendment in principle, saying that changing words and phrases would not be enough. 'We don't agree with the amendment in the first place, so we won't comment on any alteration of wordings by the government,' said Polly Tang Yin-yi, president of the Hong Kong Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association and a coalition spokeswoman. The coalition accused the government of not having any factual basis or rationale for the proposed amendment. 'We don't see the necessity and urgency for the amendment at this moment,' said Albert B. Wong, a council member with the Modernised Chinese Medicine International Association. The coalition also accused committee chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee of pushing fellow lawmakers to fast-track the bill through Legco before the end of the session in mid-June. Ms Chow told the committee meeting that her patience was limited because repeated consultations with the industry had failed to reach a consensus on the way forward since the amendment bill was first raised in October. Another committee member, Kwok Ka-ki, said he was 'depressed' by the long time it took to consult on the bill. The coalition later hit back, saying the proposed amendment should not go ahead without agreement from the industry.