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Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance


Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance

The Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance (UMAO), Cap. 231, was first enacted in 1953. It aims to protect public health through prohibiting or restricting the publication of advertisements for medicine, surgical appliance or treatment that may induce the seeking of improper management of certain health conditions. In order to widen the scope of the UMAO, the Undesirable Medical Advertisements (Amendment) Ordinance 2005 (UMA(A)O) was enacted by the Legislative Council in 2005. For details of the UMA(A)O, please visit the website of Government Logistics Department at .

One of the major amendments of the Ordinance was to extend the prohibition/ restriction on advertising to six groups of claims specified in a schedule (Schedule 4) which applied to all orally consumed products, (whether or not it is a medicine but does not include a product which is customarily consumed only as food or drink). Other major amendments included increasing the penalties for contravention of UMAO, empowering the Director of Health to appoint inspectors to enforce the Ordinance and amendments to Schedules 1 and 2.

The amendments related to the Schedules 1 and 2 under the UMA(A)O have been implemented since 2006 while the remaining provisions have come into force since 1st June 2012.

According to the UMAO, no person shall publish, or cause to be published the following :

  • Any advertisements likely to lead to the use of any medicine, surgical appliance or treatment for
    • the purpose of treating human beings for, or preventing them from contracting any disease or condition specified in column 1 of Schedule 1 (except for a purpose specified in column 2 of that Schedule); or
    • treating human beings for any purpose specified in Schedule 2 of the Ordinance
  • Any advertisement: offering to procure a miscarriage of women; canvassing, inviting or inducing the procuration of miscarriage of women; or referring to any thing in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of that thing for the procuration of miscarriage of women
  • An advertisement for an orally consumed product which makes for the product a claim specified in column 1 of Schedule 4, or any similar claim, except as allowed under the provisions in column 2 of that Schedule

Please refer to the Chapter 231 of Law of Hong Kong for the details of the Ordinance. In order to assist the trade to better understand the Ordinance, the Department of Health has prepared the "Guidelines on Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance" and "Frequently Asked Questions". Members of the public are welcomed to download the guidelines or collect them from the Drug Office, 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon. Please visit the Hong Kong e-Legislation at for details of the UMAO (Cap.231).