Hong King under fire for lack of regulation in beauty industry regarding medical and cosmetic devices

International News: Efforts to better regulate beauty treatments and devices in Hong Kong, resulted in a government proposal in January 2017 to restrict the use of 20 types of medical devices involved in cosmetic and aesthetic treatments. The proposal further recommended that Doctors would need to be present or supervise the use of some devices.

However, in a dramatic U-Turn  Government officials bowed to pressure from the beauty industry and watered down the proposal to protect customers from salons hawking risky treatments using medical devices, resulting in abarrage of criticism from health officials. Civic Party legislator Dr Kwok Ka-ki was among those chastising the authorities and calling on the Food and Health Bureau to revert to its original proposal circulated in January 2017, after it issued a revised version last week.

“You are backing down completely,” he told undersecretary for food and health Dr Chui Tak-yi on Monday during a meeting of the Legislative Council’s health services panel.Despite deaths, still no action on Hong Kong beauty industry

The re-drafted proposal is a watered down version of the original recommendations made in 2017, the updates now include the removal of recommendations to restrict the use of high-risk medical devices, including those used for laser surgery, focused ultrasound and intense pulsed light therapies.

Manufacturers and importers can voluntarily inform the Department of Health of the types of items brought into the city, and report any adverse incidents, but are not legally obliged to do so, and traders would also be required to register devices before selling them in the city and to set up a post-market surveillance system to monitor the performance of products.

Before announcing the revised proposal, The government spent the past year consulting the industry and other stakeholders.

Last week, in announcing the revisions, the government removed the initially suggested usage controls, saying it would defer the inclusion pending further discussions.

But campaigning groups and health officials fear that Hong Kong will become a dumping ground for unscrupulous equipment

Under the new proposal, the Department of Health would accept direct applications for registration from traders of medical devices which have been approved by mainland China and South Korea, in addition to those approved by the International Medical Device Regulators Forum.

There would be a five-year grace period for registering devices, and those already registered would need to have their permits renewed every five years. To ease fears over safety, the government proposed that devices used for cosmetic procedures be registered, even during the grace period.

Chui told Legco’s health services panel on Monday there were divergent views on usage control after consultations with the beauty industry and health professionals.

While the Liberal Party’s Peter Shiu Ka-fai was also among the critics of the new proposal, he argued that having a doctor present or to supervise the use of cosmetic devices did not mean the equipment was “completely safe”.

Deputy secretary for food and health Howard Chan Wai-kee said the government did not want to delay the registration of “tens of thousands” of devices, which would also include those used for medical procedures.

Kwok’s motion expressing regret at the watered-down bill and urging the government to install regulations, including on the cosmetic use of medical devices, was passed with five lawmakers supporting and two opposing it.

A bills committee was expected to be set up in the next legislative session, for detailed scrutiny of the draft bill.

Amy Hui Wai-fung, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Beauty and Fitness Professionals General Union, said monitoring imports of devices would protect Hong Kong from fakes or those that were not approved overseas. She said there were about 6,000 to 8,000 beauty salons in the city.

Frances Chiu Siu-ling, chairwoman of the Federation of Beauty Industry, said devices used in beauty care should not be classified in the same way as medical devices.

“The Federation of Beauty Industry (HK) holds the view that the regulation of devices should be dependent on the nature of operations, thus medical devices and beauty care devices should be regulated under separate regulatory systems and standards,” Chiu said.

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