Manufacturers to put warning labels on heating pads

By Hung Su-ching and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Dec 02, 2012 - Page 3

The Department of Health (DOH) recently set a six-month time limit for manufacturers of electric heating pads to attach a label warning users about the risk of the devices overheating in the wake of an increasing number of accidental burns.

The department issued the mandate for warning labels on heating pads following a number of accidents in which people who are not very sensitive to heat suffered burns after using the warming devices for extended periods of time.

Under the new guidelines, the warning labels must caution users about the risk of the pads overheating.

In addition, the guidelines ban the use of the devices on infants and people who are paralyzed or unconscious.

Wu Ting-yao (吳亭瑤), director of the Division of Medical Devices and Cosmetics under the DOH-affiliated Food and Drug Administration, said plug-in heating pads that advertised medical benefits would be required to print the warnings on the packages and in the user instructions.

The warning labels must also alert pregnant woman and diabetic patients not to use the products and to keep the devices away from flammable objects and oxygen cylinders, Wu said.

Saying that devices that are used as consumer electrical products should not make claims of medical efficacy, Wu urged heating pad manufacturers to change their products’ instructions, labels and packages in line with the new regulations within the six-month statutory period to avoid violating the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法).

The act stipulates that companies that sell products whose labeling is inconsistent with the contents originally approved by the authorities will be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 (US$1,030 to US$5,160).

Chang Wen-han (張文瀚), head of the Emergency Medicine Department of Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei, said the number of burn injuries induced by using heating pads usually peaked during winter.

Chang urged people who use the warming products on the elderly or on patients to conduct frequent checks to prevent accidental scalding.