Hospital jab ad under fire

Hospital jab ad under fire

Pre-order link breaks the rules, says DHSS

The Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) has ordered a private hospital in Bangkok to take down an advertisement urging consumers to pre-order Covid-19 vaccines made by the US biotech firm Moderna with them.

The hospital in Bang Khen area advertised through social media on Dec 26 that it was offering a Covid-19 vaccination, which instantly attracted attention of potential customers.

Thares Karassanairawiwong, the DHSS director-general, said he had asked staff to look into the contents of the hospital's online vaccine advertisement.

According to the ad, the hospital initially charged 4,000 baht to book the vaccine, which the hospital said is due to arrive in Thailand in October next year. The price of the vaccine itself is expected to be 6,000-10,000 baht.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Sunday ordered the hospital to immediately remove the advertisement.

While the Moderna vaccine has been approved by food and drug authorities in several countries, the vaccine will still need to be approved by the Thai FDA.

Only Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine after the US FDA cleared it for emergency use on Dec 18.

The source said the exact price of the vaccine, which will have to be administered in two doses, will be known by Jan 6 next year.

As of Sunday, a link on the hospital's webpage that redirected visitors to its vaccine booking system can no longer be accessed.

Dr Thares said it was important to prevent people getting the wrong information about the vaccine and its availability.

He insisted no Covid-19 vaccine has been certified for use in the country.

Also, the government has not authorised any medical facility to carry out the vaccination.

The hospital may have violated Section 38 of the Medical Facilities Act by failing to secure permission to run an advertisement for medicine and medical services. It is also liable for publicly carrying exaggerated information.

Dr Thares said anyone connected with the ad may be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, DHSS deputy chief Arkom Praditthasuwan said regulations require that advertisements of such a nature be approved by the department or the provincial public health office. Failure to obtain permission is punishable by a prison term, a fine, or both. It is not known how many responded to the ad.

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