13.04.2004 General News

FDB cautions Media on unapproved adverts

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Accra, April 13, GNA - The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) on Tuesday cautioned the electronic media to refrain from airing unapproved advertisement or face court action.

The Board said this measure had become necessary because the media had persistently flouted the rules and regulations concerning advertisements on food and drugs.

Speaking at a meeting with General Managers and Marketing Officers of the Media Houses in Accra, Mr Emmanuel Agyarko, Chief Executive Officer of FDB, expressed his displeasure about daily advertisements on the electronic media, which were mostly filled with half-truth and deceit.

Mr Agyarko said most often, the media was only concerned with the money they got from such advertisements but refused to consider the safety of consumers, which was equally important.

He said current reports showed that more people were contracting liver and kidney diseases due to prolong use of herbal concoctions and that the FBD had no choice than to start prosecuting both advertisers and media houses that continued to "make noise about such products without regard to the law".

Mr Agyarko emphasized: "What every media house should do is to check whether any food or drugs brought to be advertised have been registered for consumption and approved by the FDB."

He said: "Radio stations should not be turned into consultation rooms where diseases are diagnosed and prescriptions made, because it is against the law to do so," adding that most pharmaceuticals had a huge potential of creating health problems.

Mrs Yvonne Nkrumah, FDB's Legal Consultant, who talked on the consequences of disregarding of the law, explained that, under the FDB's Law of 1992, PNDC Law 305, defaulters could be fined five million cedis or sentenced to two years' imprisonment or both.

She explained that the law did not permit advertisements of products or drugs or even cure for sexually transmitted diseases, diseases in connection with reproduction, hypertension and diabetes.

Mr Nkrumah, however, said it had not been the Board's intention to take such court action against the media, but rather come to amicable compromise to rectify the situation, "but we are being forced under the present circumstances to do so, so that we can protect the lives of the consuming public".

Mr Ben Botwe, Deputy Chief Executive, FDB noted that an Ad Hoc Committee had been set up by the Board to quicken the procedure of approving advertisement of products.

He, therefore, advised advertisers not to hesitate to bring their advertisements for approval since only registered products could be advertised on the air.

He said approval was given for only one year after which it could be renewed.

Mr George Mac Badji, Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), said the Commission frowned on such advertisements and did not approve of it, since the health of the public was at stake. He, therefore, cautioned the media to be circumspect in their reportage especially where advertisements were concerned.

He noted that it was the duty of the FBD to protect consumers and that "asking advertisers for registration and approval forms of the FDB before their products were advertised, was not too much of a demand. Going contrary to this is unacceptable," Mr Badji said.

Mr Badji cautioned the media to work within the specified rules and regulations of the Commission: "The freedom of the media goes with responsibilities, and so in the interest of the nation let us work within the rules", he said.

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