Friday, September 24, 2010

Ad rules relaxed

Rules on healthcare ads relaxed, says Liow


PUTRAJAYA: Private healthcare providers will now be able to advertise their services in all mediums following the government’s decision to liberalise provisions under the Medicines (Advertisement and Sales) Act 1965, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Liow said this would allow private healthcare providers to make their services available to both locals and foreigners.

He said the move was in line with the Government’s decision to promote health tourism in Malaysia and raise the number of foreigners coming here by 20% annually from 336,000 visitors last year.

The liberalisation would also ensure that Malaysia maintained its competitiveness in attracting health tourists.

“The liberalisation of the provisions, which comes into effect immediately, will allow private hospitals, clinics and even dental clinics to advertise their facilities and services in newspapers, the electronic media and on the Internet as well as put up banners to announce new facilities.

“They can also advertise abroad but they will have to abide by the laws in those countries as well as the laws here.

“They can mention the latest equipment or treatment they have but they are not to use superlatives like ‘best’ or make comparisons,” he told a press conference after attending his ministry’s Hari Raya celebration.

Before this, private healthcare providers were only allowed to advertise through healthcare magazines and related publications and were not allowed to place advertisements outside Malaysia.

Liow said to further help the industry’s growth, the ministry’s Medicines Advertising Board had also shortened the time to approve applications for advertisements from six weeks to between three and five days now.

He however warned that the ministry would keep close tabs on advertisements related to the industry and those flouting the law would face a fine of up to RM3,000 and a year’s jail or both for the first offence and up to RM5,000 fine or two years’ jail or both for subsequent offences.

He said healthcare providers could go to, or contact the ministry’s secretariat on medical advertisements at 03-7841 3200.

He said the ministry would also launch a large-scale campaign against dengue in Kelantan after the number of cases in the state rose by 160%.