Thursday, July 29, 2010

No approved therapeutic claims - labeling consistency offline and online

Like many Filipinos, I have tried various medicines and supplements that carries the label "no approved therapeutic claims" and ignore it most of the time. The decision to purchase was heavily influenced by friends who have tried it and testimonials from other users perceived to be as credible.

Today, we see a lot of these products marketed as part of a television program where they sponsor segments. Over the radio and on billboards, famous broadcast personalities, politicians, and celebrities promote various brands.

This one hundred fifty billion pesos (P150B) health supplements industry is definitely thriving as products get sold through various over the counter outlets, direct selling, and multi-level marketing models.

Lately, new policies were imposed as to how they should be properly labeled. The "no approved therapeutics claim" is replaced with "Mahalagang Paalala: Ang (name of product) Ay Hindi Gamot At Hindi Dapat Gamiting Panggamot sa Anumang Uri ng Sakit”.

The herbal medicines industry was on an uproar stating that the said requirement will kill their industry. They also filed an administrative and graft case against the Department of Health Secretary.

But the argument there is, the Filipino consumers should know the truth on what they are purchasing and be properly informed. From a practical and pro-consumer point of view, that is hard to argue.
However, when you go online, these products get promoted on Facebook, buy & sell sites, and the likes, the Filipino version of the required product label is not necessarily posted. (Of course there is also the question whether it should be imposed in the first place.)

I'm quite confident with consumers demanding on how product marketers should present their brands online. However, I believe that brands who will be honest enough in presenting themselves like are they "food" or "medicine" and be able to properly explain on what exactly do they do to reduce or heal dangerous diseases that they listed - despite not having "approved therapeutic claims" will standout online.

They can take the challenge of raising the bar in doing online marketing in their product category.