Here is in a nutshell what you need to know.
Health Supplements are a really easy product.
At the time when I am updating this little article (June 2019), health supplements can be imported and sold without any license from the Singapore government agencies. The sale of health supplements does explicitly not need any pre-market approval.
However, before importing and selling the respective health supplements in Singapore, it is recommended to verify whether the products comply with the official requirements. There is a very helpful webpage of the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore, which also provides specific guidelines for health supplements. The webpage also has a link to an inquiry form that can be used to clarify upcoming questions with HSA.
If you plan to import your health supplement to Singapore and to sell it over local retailers then it is of utmost importance to have classification by HSA that you can show to the customs. If you do not have such an email message it can take days or weeks until your health supplements pass the customs hurdle.
Please note that the laws in Singapore can change quick. Better check regularly for updates on the HSA website!
Admissible and Non-Admissible Product Claims
Yes, I understand marketing people very well. There is an old rule in marketing which says that you have to “sell the sizzling and not the steak”. Which means that you put information in the forefront that match with what the customer wants to experience.
And in the case of a health supplement, you want to present information that talks about how the buyer’s health will improve after buying your health supplements.
But there is a limit to that. In the first place, the law forbids to label, advertise or promote your health supplement for any specific medicinal purpose. This is a serious limitation, and it compasses, for example, the treatment or prevention of any disease or disorder, including its related conditions. So you cannot speak of specific illnesses when you advertise your health supplement.
Potential customers are also not ignorant. The use of impressive-sounding but harmless terms such as ‘world-wide recognition’ will be recognized as an exaggeration. Sick people know that there are no ‘quick cures’ and ‘easy solutions’ to their health problems, and they know that if your claims sound too good to be true, it is most likely to be so.
Check out the very useful HSA guidelines for what is an allowable claim and what is not an allowable claim
If this link should be dead in the future, please search for the keywords “Health Supplements Guidelines” on the HSA website https://www.hsa.gov.sg/
And what Happens if I am Importing or Selling Health Supplements that are not Compliant with the Official Requirements?
This is not good at all. Your products will be seized. All people involved may get fined and/or go to jail. That means the importers, manufacturers, distributors and sellers of the illegal health supplements.
Your company will appear in the local newspapers, and your company name will suffer from that bad publicity.
Check out this link here for more information on that.
Call to Action
My firm Schweiger & Partners can also support you if you have questions about whether a claim for your health supplement is admissible or not.
Send us an email for more information.