[co-authors: Serena Zhao and Stefaan Meuwissen]
China's National Medical Product Administration (“NMPA”), the administrative body responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics in China, has recently launched a campaign to enforce the Regulation on the Supervision and Administration of Cosmetics (“Cosmetics Regulation”), which is the first of its kind and scale since the Cosmetics Regulation came into force on 1 January 2021. During the one-year period ending in October 2022, the NMPA’s local offices across the nation are asked to crack down on the sales of personal care and cosmetic products if they are found to violate the Cosmetics Regulation. The campaign is focusing on e-commerce platforms.
Regulatory compliance will no doubt become even more important in this field. The NMPA’s initiative also means that brand owners who face challenges from incompliant products, including parallel imports, will be better placed to seek regulatory intervention against such products during the course of the campaign.
We highlight some key aspects of the NMPA’s enforcement campaign below. If you are interested in further details, please contact our lawyers listed on the right-hand side.
Overview and Potential Impact of NMPA Enforcement Campaign
The NMPA’s local offices at the provincial and city levels are expected to organize business operators in their respective administrative regions to conduct self-inspection and take corrective measures in relation to products found to be in violation of the Cosmetics Regulation. The enforcement campaign focuses on (3) key areas:
Online sales of unregistered products:
The NMPA’s local offices are asked to focus on cracking down on the online sales of the following products:
- Products that have not been registered in accordance with the Cosmetics Regulation;
- Products that are offered using falsified or someone else’s product registration;
- Products that are blacked-listed by the NMPA and restrained from sale.
Online sales of products with exaggerated or misleading statements:
The NMPA’s campaign also focuses on tackling misleading product statements and efficacy claims, including products claimed to contain ingredients such as stem cells, peeling acid, 'cosmeceuticals' or elements implicating medical effects, etc. Businesses are expected to ensure that product and labelling information displayed on online stores is complete, true and accurate and consistent with the product registration information.
Cosmetics sold online containing illegal substances that may endanger human health:
The NMPA’s campaign also targets products that contain prohibited or restricted ingredients, or ingredients of an excessive level, which may endanger human health. In particular, products intended for children and products for special-use purposes such as freckles and skin whitening will be the key area of focus for enforcement.
Businesses in this field will need to assess whether their products may become the target of such enforcement initiatives. The NMPA’s enforcement initiatives also place particular emphasis on the responsibilities of e-commerce platform operators under the Cosmetics Regulation, including real-name registration of distributors of personal care and cosmetic products, having dedicated personnel and establishing monitoring and reporting mechanisms to ensure that products being 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 being offered with no product registration information, or with the brand owner’s product registration information, but without the brand owner’s authorization, or with no complete product and labelling information. With the enforcement campaign in place, brand owners will now also have better opportunities to ensure that products offered under its marks by third parties remain compliant and cause no harm to its brand.