Dairy Ban
Health-Sciences Board to be Set Up

The Singapore government has recently adopted measures that protect the public from defective and dangerous products. These include the ban on dairy products from Britain (due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease) and the formation of a new health-sciences board.

Dairy Ban

Singapore has banned the import of all milk and dairy products from Britain until further notice, as a result of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in cattle herds. The Ministry of the Environment said the ban was unlikely to affect the supply of milk and milk products because the amount of these products imported from Britain has always been low.

The products affected are pasteurized milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, yoghurt, milk powder and infant formula. Products that have undergone high-heat treatment are not affected by the ban (eg, mayonnaise, chocolates, biscuits and evaporated milk).

The ministry said that the ban was necessary to protect Singapore's foot and mouth disease-free status and its agri-business trade.

Health-Sciences Board to be Set Up

A new authority will pool expertise from different areas to regulate healthcare products using multiple technologies. The new statutory board, the Health Sciences Authority, will be set up to provide a one-stop, multi-disciplinary body to regulate healthcare products.

Parliament recently passed a bill to form this board by integrating the following five departments of the Health Ministry:

  • the Centre for Drug Evaluation;

  • the Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine;

  • the National Pharmaceutical Administration;

  • the Product Regulation Department; and

  • the Singapore Blood Transfusion Service.

The minister of health said that the new authority will result in a regulatory agency that will administer a "seamless regulatory process for all therapeutic products". The agency will combine expertise in different areas. The agency's formation was deemed necessary because of the trend towards products that combine multiple technologies. For example, some medical devices also release drugs. The minister also said:

"As a multi-disciplinary agency, the [authority] will be able to deliver a well-coordinated regulatory process efficiently and effectively ... The medical and pharmaceutical industry will now need to interact with only a single agency, which will have the full range of professional expertise necessary to evaluate and approve their therapeutic product."

He also pointed out that the key to the authority's success was knowledgeable and well-trained professionals. With the growth of the healthcare and biomedical sectors in Singapore, there will be increasing competition for good staff. As a statutory board, the authority will have greater flexibility to be competitive in recruiting and retaining professional talent.

For further information on this topic please contact Lawrence Teh at Rodyk & Davidson by telephone (+65 225 2626) or by fax (+65 225 1838) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

This update was extracted and edited from news in Singapore's The Straits Times.
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