SINGAPORE - Singapore-based company Riway was fined $3,000 last month for making false claims that its health supplement product can treat or cure cancer.
It claimed in advertisements that its flagship product, Purtier Placenta, has "anti-cancer effects" and is able to "cure patients with diabetes" - assertions the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has found misleading.
Marketing materials published by Riway describe the product as having deer placenta as its main ingredient.
The materials also promote the health supplement as a form of live cell therapy, in which stem cells are used to treat diseases, simply through consuming pills.
HSA said there are no verified studies that prove Purtier Placenta can cure cancer, prevent diabetes or treat complications such as poor wound healing and nerve damage.
It is neither registered nor approved for use by HSA as a medicine, the agency added.
HSA also debunked Riway's claims that Purtier Placenta contains stem cells that can cure diseases.
"For stem cells to retain their activity, they need to be stored under very cold temperatures, as low as minus 196 deg C. There are no special storage conditions for the product.
"Additionally, stem cells that are taken orally will be destroyed by the enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract as they are protein-based substances."
The agency said it had issued several warnings and advisories to Riway since 2016 and directed them to educate their sellers not to make false claims.
"However, the company further published objectionable materials that came to (our) attention in 2019, warranting further enforcement action," added HSA.
Attempts by The Straits Times to contact Riway for comments were unsuccessful.
According to records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Riway has been in operation since 2008. It is led by Singaporean Lim Boon Hong and has overseas branches in 11 countries including Malaysia and Thailand.
Riway's website said that Purtier Placenta, which is in its sixth edition, is "the answer to defying age and embracing our youth". There is no mention of the product's medical properties.
Checks found that Purtier Placenta can be bought on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada for around $250 a bottle. Similar products from other brands are sold at pharmacy chains at between $60 and $148 a bottle.
Some e-commerce merchants claim the product can strengthen the immune system and help with conditions such as eczema and high blood pressure. But Riway's earlier claims of Purtier Placenta being able to treat cancer and diabetes were not found.