Korea’s drug regulator said it has found many advertisements that either promoted groundless therapeutic effects of treating and preventing hair loss or used online reviews to promote products illegally.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety Ministry said it caught 2,248 cases of illegal ads claiming therapeutic and preventive effect for hair loss on online ad sites for foods, drugs, and cosmetics in the second quarter.
The ministry said it requested the Korea Communications Standards Commission to block 381 online sites for false or exaggerative ads. It will also look for evidence to ask the police to investigate some online sites that purchase falsely advertised products for consumers.
The illegal cases included 204 ads that misled consumers to appear effective to treat and prevent hair loss, 225 ads that deceived consumers by promoting the raw materials’ efficacy or promoted keywords on headlines on the online sites, and three ads disguised as reviews written by consumers.
One company advertised its product as if it could prevent hair loss and help reduce hair loss for women who recently gave birth. Another firm said in an ad that its product was “clinically effective for hair loss prevention and male hormone improvement,” confusing consumers to regard it as a pharmaceutical good. The company said the product’s main ingredients such as beer yeast, yellowtail bean, black sesame, and biotin “prevented or mitigated hair loss.”
Among other 336 cases involved sales and promotions of overseas products that were not locally authorized or sales of approved drugs on second-hand online markets.
The ministry also found 1,480 wrong ads of 16 products, out of 41 that are being marketed as “functional cosmetics that alleviate hair loss symptoms.”
Most of the illegal ads contained expressions such as “hair loss prevention,” “hair growth,” “hormone suppression,” “scalp recovery,” “increase of hair thickness,” and “allergy, seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, and other skin diseases.” Such expressions could confuse consumers to regard them as pharmaceutical products.
“Functional cosmetics that alleviate hair loss symptoms” have been categorized as “functional cosmetics” instead of “quasi-drugs” as of May 30, 2017. However, such cosmetic products have not verified their clinical efficacy on hair loss prevention/treatment or alleviation of scalp psoriasis/infection and seborrheic dermatitis.
“There are no approved health functional foods for helping prevent or treat hair loss. Consumers should not trust overseas products coming into Korea that promote efficacy in hair loss-related issues,” the ministry said.
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