The Korea Herald


S. Korea cracks down on misleading growth hormone ads

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : June 12, 2024 - 15:45

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South Korea announced a crackdown Wednesday on false or exaggerated advertisements for growth hormone treatments, as the private market for height-enhancement products grows here.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has launched the crackdown in collaboration with 17 local governments. The initiative will continue through June 21.

Hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies found to be overstating or falsely advertising information will be subject to administrative guidance and action, according to the ministry.

“Although growth hormone therapy should only be prescribed for children with growth failure associated with growth hormone deficiency, chronic renal failure, Turner syndrome, and for children born small for their gestational age, it has been wrongly marketed as ‘growth hormone injections’ for everyone. This has led to unnecessary prescriptions and use, increasing the risk of side effects,” an official from the ministry said.

While growth hormone injections can be effective for children with deficient growth hormone secretion, they may not significantly impact children with normal hormone levels and heights within the normal range.

Additionally, administering growth hormone injections to children with normal hormone levels carries risks including scoliosis, hip joint dislocation, transient diabetes, headaches, edema and vomiting.

Of particular concern is the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. A study analyzing 11,000 American children found that for children who receive growth hormone therapy without a growth hormone deficiency, the risk of diabetes in the future was 8.5 times higher.

According to data released by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, 25,900 adolescents received growth hormone therapy in the first half of 2023. This figure was 25,300 in 2022, which was about double the number recorded in 2020.