Govt moves to discourage food supplement import

Jasim Uddin | Published: 01:23, Nov 27,2016

 
 

A file photo illustration shows vitamin supplement tablets and capsules. The government has started a process to prevent import of substandard and unnecessary food supplements which are rampantly sold at the local market causing concern for public health, officials said. — Reuters photo

The government has started a process to prevent import of substandard and unnecessary food supplements which are rampantly sold at the local market causing concern for public health, officials said.
They said that the commerce ministry would soon sit with the stakeholders including food supplement importers, pharmacists, local manufacturers, drug administration and customs authorities to examine supply, demand, quality and other issues related to the products before finalising the decision.
‘We took the decision following a request from the health and family welfare ministry to discourage the import of the products as the substandard and unauthorised food supplements have flooded the market and sales of the items have become rampant in absence of proper monitoring and guidelines,’ a senior official of the commerce ministry told New Age on Saturday.
He said that the ministry was now conducting stocktaking of the information related to demand, supply, imports, local production, quality, pricing and other issues.
The ministry will soon take a concrete decision on the issue aiming to discourage the import of food supplements particularly substandard and unnecessary ones, he said.
He said that the ministry had also sought import data of food supplements.
Officials said that the local market was flooding with low-quality food supplements imported particularly from China and some other countries.
In most cases, importers have no licences from the Directorate General of Drug Administration to import the items.
The food supplements in the form of pharmaceutical doses such as tablet, capsule and soft gelatin are being rampantly sold at almost all pharmacies across the country.
Of the food supplements like calcium tablet, vitamin-e soft gelatin capsule, different vitamins, various types of antioxidant, honey and cod liver oil, some are imported and some are locally produced.
Many of the items with seals of foreign countries on the packets of the items are being marketed and sold at the markets without any proof of quality and effectiveness, the officials said.
There is no government control over pricing of the food supplements and in many cases food items are sold for several thousand takas.
Physicians also often prescribe the costly food supplements to patients.
The health ministry and the DGDA are considering the overall situation related to food supplements which are harmful to public health.
Purchasing of food supplements also causes waste of public money and patients face cheating consuming the food supplements on doctors’ prescriptions.
In this context, the government believes that import and uses of such food supplements should be controlled, discouraged and, if necessary, banned, officials said.
They, however, said the import of some necessary food supplements should not be prohibited.
DGDA officials said that the health ministry had already requested the Bangladesh Medical Association to appeal to the physicians not to prescribe substandard and unnecessary food supplements. 

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