Misleading Adverts On The Rise Again – FDA Promises Tough Legal Action

Caterpillar Fungus

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has joined together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a new fight to curb exaggerated advertisements, which are on the rise again.

Yesterday, the agencies vowed to take tough legal action against offenders of laws prohibiting exaggerated advertisements, which range from fines of 500,000 baht to 5 million baht per advertisement to a maximum prison term of three years.

Lt Gen Perapong Manakit, the commissioner of the NBTC, said the problem of exaggerated advertisements was now rising again after having subsided for some time.

In a major case of exaggerated advertising, caterpillar fungus (ophiocordyceps sinensis) was being touted as a cure-all wonder drug, which was supported by exaggerated testimonials given by celebrities in the entertainment business, he said.

These caterpillar fungus-based products were said to be a cure for ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other chronic diseases, he said.

The NBTC and the FDA will work more closely together to tackle these exaggerated advertisements, he said. The organisations in mid-2018 kicked off a joint surveillance programme on exaggerated advertisements in broadcast media, he said.

Over the past two years, the NBTC alone had detected 4,325 dodgy advertisements broadcast on digital TV channels, satellite TV channels, community radios, while the FDA last year took legal action against suspects in a total of 1,388 such cases, he said.

ExAs for exaggerated advertisements published online, the FDA and the Digital Economy and Society have been working together to suppress them, he said.

More recently, the NBTC fined a TV channel 500,000 baht for broadcasting an exaggerated advertisement while the FDA found two other parties guilty of running illegal advertisements and asked the NBTC’s board to fine each the same amount, he said.

Normally after the NBTC has fined the wrongdoer, it will transfer the case to the FDA for further legal action to be taken against product presenters and broadcast hosts.

Aside from facing a hefty fine, the wrongdoers who are broadcasters could lose their licences as well, he said, adding that more than 260 community radio operators had been fined and lost their licences accordingly.

Supattra Boonserm, deputy secretary-general of the FDA, said that since 2018 the agency had ruled on 250 cases of exaggerated advertisements of food and drug products including 58 advertisements of caterpillar fungus.