Unapproved advertisement: FDA slaps 39 media houses with GH¢975,000 fine

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has fined 39 media houses across the country a total of GH¢975, 000 for unapproved advertisement since January to date this year.

The offenders, from both elec­tronic and print houses, are to pay GH¢25, 000 each for airing or pub­lishing products, including drugs and household chemicals, without FDA authorisation as required by law.

The Head of Investigations of the FDA, Mr Matthew Nkum, who disclosed this to the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, said the compa­nies that sent the advertisement to the media houses without approval from the FDA were also to pay GH¢25, 000 each.

Dr Delese Mimi Darko,CEO FDA
Dr Delese Mimi Darko,CEO FDA

He, however, withheld the names of the companies and media houses.

The interview was to ascertain how the Authority was enforcing its laws on advertisement of un­registered products on the various media outlets in the country.

Section 100 and 144 of the Pub­lic Health Act, 2012, Act 851 and the FDA guidelines for advertise­ment of regulated products prohib­it any unapproved advertisement of FDA-regulated products as a preventive drug for disease, disor­der, or abnormal physical state.

In addition, any drug advertise­ment for treatment, prevention or cure of disease listed in the fifth schedule of Act 851, such as sex­ually transmitted diseases, cancer, hypertension, sexual importance, were also prohibited under the Act.

Pursuant to Section 129 of Act 85, “persons who contravenes (these guidelines) were liable to summary conviction or a fine not less than 7500 penalty units and not more than 15 years and not more than 25 years imprisonment or both.”

Mr Nkum said the affected media houses and companies had been given varied periods of time to pay their fines, disclosing that some of them had started paying and others were reluctant in paying.

He said the legal team of the FDA would prosecute the recalci­trant media houses and compa­nies that failed to comply with the sanctions to serve as example for those flouting the law.

The head of Investigations said media houses have wider coverage and great influence on the public and that it behooved on them to ensure public health safety by complying with the law.

Mr Nkum urged media houses to always do due diligence and request for approval letters from FDA before they advertise any products to avoid being in conflict with the law.

He assured the public of the FDA’s continuous determination to promote public safety, saying, “Monitoring of their activities was still ongoing and those who contra­vene the law would be prosecuted.”

He said one major challenge was tracking such advertisement on the online portals, adding that the FDA was partnering the Police Service to address the issue.

Mr Nkum urged the public to ensure they patronised products approved by the FDA, desist from self-medication and visit health facilities regularly to get the right treatment for their illness.

It would be recalled that in the September 22, 2023 issue of the Ghanaian Times the FDA served notice that it would sanction media houses which had flouted guide­lines for advertisement.

This followed an exposé by Fourth Estate, an investigative project of the Media Foundation for West Africa that exposed some media houses for not complying with laws on advertisements of herbal medicines.

Out of eight media houses in four regions across the country approached to promote a fake and non-existent herbal product, only two – the New Times Corporation, publishers of the Ghanaian Times and the Spectator, and Accra-based Peace FM took steps to ensure the authenticity of the said product.


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