September 22, 2009

Associated Press exposes illegal formula marketing in Vietnam

The Associated Press has published an article revealing gross violations of Vietnamís formula marketing laws. According to the article by Ben Stocking, multinational formula companies are giving commisions to doctors for every tin of formula sold, are repeatedly calling new mothers once they return from the hospital, and have even sent company representatives to clinics posing as academic researchers. Mead Johnson, Abbot Ross, Dutch company Friesland are singled out for their particularly aggressive marketing.

The companies are not only violating the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes but federal Vietnamese law as well, which forbids marketing formula to children under the age of one year.

Breastfeeding rates in Vietnam have fallen sharply in recent years, with only 17 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At the same time formula sales have soared, rising 39 per cent in 2008. Formula companies are in the top 5 advertisers in Vietnam in terms of dollars spent.

For the full article as it appeared in the New York Times, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/19/world/AP-AS-Vietnam-Infant-Formula.html.