[co-authors: Serena Zhao and Stefaan Meuwissen]
China’s National Medicines Administration (“NMPA”), the administrative body responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics in China, recently launched a campaign to enforce the Regulation on Surveillance and Monitoring. administration of cosmetics (“Cosmetics Regulations”), which is the first of its kind and in scope since the entry into force of the Cosmetics Regulations on January 1, 2021. During the period of one year ending in October 2022, local NMPA offices across the country are urged to crack down on sales of personal care products and cosmetics if they are found to be in violation of cosmetics regulations. The campaign focuses on e-commerce platforms.
Regulatory compliance is likely to become even more important in this area. The NMPA initiative also means that brand owners facing challenges related to non-compliant products, including parallel imports, will be in a better position to seek regulatory intervention against these products during the campaign.
Below we highlight some key aspects of the NMPA law enforcement campaign. If you are interested in more details, please contact our attorneys listed on the right side.
Overview and potential impact of the NMPA enforcement campaign
Local NMPA offices at provincial and municipal levels should organize business operators in their respective administrative regions to conduct self-inspection and take corrective action regarding products that violate the cosmetics regulation. The app campaign focuses on (3) key areas:
Online sale of unregistered products:
Local NMPA offices are urged to focus on cracking down on online sales of the following products:
- Products that have not been registered in accordance with the Cosmetics Regulation;
- Products offered using a forged product registration or someone else’s;
- Products blacklisted by the NMPA and banned from sale.
Online sales of products with exaggerated or misleading claims:
The NMPA campaign also focuses on combating misleading product claims and efficacy claims, including products believed to contain ingredients such as stem cells, acid peels, “cosmeceuticals” or items involving medical effects, etc. Companies must ensure that the product and labeling information displayed on online stores is complete, truthful and accurate and complies with product registration information.
Cosmetics sold online containing illegal substances that may endanger human health:
The NMPA campaign also targets products that contain banned or restricted ingredients, or ingredients in excess, which may endanger human health. In particular, products for children and special purpose products such as freckles and skin whitening will be the key area of ââlaw enforcement.
Companies in this area will need to assess whether their products can become the target of such enforcement initiatives. NMPA enforcement initiatives also place particular emphasis on the responsibilities of e-commerce platform operators under the Cosmetics Regulation, including registering personal care and cosmetic distributors under their real names, having dedicated staff and setting up monitoring and reporting mechanisms to ensure that the products offered on the e-commerce platform comply with the Cosmetics Regulation.
Finally, it is not uncommon to see parallel imported personal care and cosmetic products offered without product registration information, or with the product registration information of the brand owner, but without the authorization of the brand owner. brand owner, or without complete product and labeling information. With the enforcement campaign in place, brand owners will now also have better opportunities to ensure that products offered under their brands by third parties remain compliant and do no harm to their brand.