THE Health Ministry, in an immediate response to queries posed by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team, said it was “deeply concerned about the sale of cosmetic products whose quality cannot be established”.
Products that have not gone through the “notification” before hitting the market, is also an issue they have with manufacturers.
He said holders of “notification notes” issued by the ministry bore the responsibility of being truthful about the ingredients of their cosmetic products.
Cosmetics in the market, he said, must conform to stipulated requirements and meet all standards and specification as declared in their Product Information File.
“The use of cosmetics containing or contaminated with prohibited substances may pose major health risks to users.
“For example, exposure to cosmetic products contaminated with mercury can damage the kidneys and nervous system,” Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told the team.
He also dismissed claims, including by some manufacturers of cosmetics and those running beauty parlours, that their injectable beauty products were endorsed by the ministry.
A cosmetic product, he said, was only meant to be applied to external parts of the body, such as the skin epidermis, hair, nails and lips.
“Cosmetic products are not allowed to be applied through injections.
“There are no injectable products registered with the ministry for beauty purposes, including for Vitamin C or intravenous glutathione,” he said, adding that cosmetics sampled from the market found to contain prohibited substances would be recalled, and the “notification note” holder would be responsible for the process.
The “notification note” will also be cancelled. He urged the public to report on those providing beauty injection services.
The probes team asked Dr Noor Hisham about the justice for consumers when they inadvertently buy and use such cosmetics, exposing them to serious health risk, but where the manufacturers were merely treated with kid gloves.
“How is it fair to unsuspecting consumers, when they have been ‘cheated’ and exposed to health risks?
“When your post-market surveillance find poisons in those products, they merely get recalled. What is the deterrent for industry players when they can make their millions and hope the ministry gives them a miss during this surveillance?
“At the most, they will only have to bear the recall cost,” said the NST Probes Team.
To this Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry has been closely monitoring the notification holders and manufacturers with a history of non-compliance.
The team also touched on the effectiveness of the previous system regulatory system (before the 2008 adoption of the Asean Cosmetics Directive), where cosmetics must first be registered and tested for their safety before hitting the market.
He said “the ACD was aimed at enhancing cooperation among Asean members, to ensure the safety, quality and claimed benefits of cosmetics marketed in Asean”.
He added that the ACD also regulated the ingredients allowed in cosmetics as well as product labeling.
The law bans the sale and supply of cosmetics without the ministry’s “notification note”. Under the Sale of Drugs Act 1952, those guilty of this could face a maximum fine of RM25,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
Only those who fail to pull their cosmetics found to be laced with hazardous substances within 72 hours after being told to do so, will face action under the law. If they do it in time, they get off scot-free.
They are also free to sell new cosmetic products, provided they get a new “notification note”, like they first did for their banned cosmetics, which would have been forced to be destroyed.
This cycle can be repeated.
The online process to secure the all-important “notification number”, takes three days at the most, once the fee of RM50 payment is made to the ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.