People should be aware of the risks of purchasing “aesthetic medicine group coupons” or “consulting lessons” advertised online by shopping malls and on the Web sites of various aesthetic medical clinics, many of which are in violation of the law by engaging in advertising, or by soliciting consumers as patients through illicit means, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.
While Article 84 of the Medical Care Act (醫療法) states that “non-medical care institutions shall not advertise for medical care,” the foundation said it has found three online shopping sites publicly advertising and selling aesthetic medicine treatments for eight medical clinics.
One advertisement on a shopping site promoted a treatment by listing a price difference (between the market price and that on the site) as large as NT$97,020.
“This also makes us concerned that the low-price competition has compromised the quality of the treatment,” foundation secretary-general Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said.
Although medical clinics, as medical institutions, are allowed to advertise their treatments, they are prohibited by law from soliciting patients through improper manners such as offering discounts, coupons and gifts.
“We are against the over-commercialization of medical treatment. Inducing medical demands on the physicians’ part is in violation of medical ethics,” foundation board member Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said.
The foundation said random checks have revealed that at least eight aesthetic medical clinics are selling treatments in packages or at discounts on their Web sites.
The foundation added that the advertisements aired by the clinics present an oversimplified image of medical procedures and consumers are not notified of the treatments’ potential risks and side-effects when they call for more information.
“All of these ads lack displays of scientific basis or evidence of the treatments’ effectiveness,” Lei said.
“The Department of Health has this year started to accredit medical institutions that provide aesthetic medical services, but the process is voluntary and no punishment is imposed when a clinic fails to pass the certifying procedure, so consumers are not helped in any way,” foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said.