A crackdown on the sale and promotion of unlicensed slimming products has been launched following public complaints.
An official from the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) told the Northern Municipal Council at its weekly meeting that while smuggling weight loss products was difficult, there have been cases that go undetected.
NHRA pharmaceutical product regulation senior pharmacist Nawal Shaboon explained that suspicious packages involving pharmaceutical products were examined at customs, while random tests were also carried out on licensed products before entering the market.
“There are procedures that prevent dangerous slimming products from entering the country and we are co-ordinating with all of those concerned to stop them from entering our markets, but a number of products manage to bypass the system and show up in the market,” said Ms Shaboon during the meeting.
“Some products are even brought in as regular creams or capsules so their detection in normal luggage is impossible and they end up in the market.
“There are also products that are brought within cabin luggage and again it is very difficult to distinguish between it and any other product.
“So, it is all up to general awareness and us following the promotion of such products on social media and taking necessary action with us referring several to the Public Prosecution.
“We have found that the unlicensed products are useless and are just rebranded rejects that don’t even follow the standards of a normal cream or capsule or food supplement.”
The meeting was held after the council received numerous complaints from people claiming they were tricked into buying products being sold on social media which were “useless”.
Council chairman Mohammed Buhamood said smuggling slimming products would continue because the existing punishment was too lenient.
“The choice between three months in jail or a fine of BD200 when a verdict is issued means that smugglers, promoters and sellers are free to bring in those products for at least three to four years, and when it comes to BD200, they would have already made thousands,” he said.
“Controlling such products is also difficult because most are sold on Instagram by lingerie and garment suppliers without it even being mentioned as an available product on their pages.”
Mr Buhamood stressed the need for an immediate clampdown, while a strategy to combat the presence of such products in markets will be drawn up.
“Those caught should be named and shamed because that’s the only way their business would be affected, otherwise as stated, they are willing to pay BD200,” he added.
“An immediate clampdown is necessary until a combat strategy is put into place.”
The council voted in favour of a crackdown on unlicensed weight loss products and requested the NHRA to take immediate action.
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