A directive by Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA) compelling broadcasters and advertisers to seek approval before promoting and advertising regulated products has triggered mixed emotions. Jean Lambert Gatare, the Director of Isango Star radio and TV and a publicist said that their media house had already started asking its clients for the approvals even before the announcement was released. For example, he said, we wouldn’t publicise beers manufactured in Rwanda if a client has not provided approvals from agencies such as Rwanda Standard Board (RSB) and Rwanda FDA. As an advertiser, he continued, I cannot advertise, let’s say reflexology services or products, if you don’t have a license from the ministry of health because I don’t want to risk becoming an accomplice to a crime in the product is outlawed. “Imagine advertising a beer and later it kills people or makes them ill. The affected people would come to me and say that I sensitised them to buy it which is bad,” he said, welcoming the new directive, which he added was long overdue. Julius Kwame, a Creative Partner and Art Director at Nomad Advertising Limited, said that they will definitely do what is required by the regulations because it was necessary in terms of protecting those who consume or use regulated products. He said that it won’t affect their business because their clients who need to advertise regulated products are going to seek approvals. “We are going to request them for approval. If they don’t have it, we will not accept to work with them,” he said. Sincere Izabayo, a local Marketing Professional, said that such regulations are necessary for consumer protection because regulated products without approval can affect their lives. To him, the regulation was also important for raising public confidence in the advertising and marketing industry, because it will be perceived to be providing authentic information. However, he suggested that the process to get approvals should be quick so that the businesses. Louis Kamanzi, Manager and Proprietor of Flash FM and TV, said that anything that restricts advertising is hard and can hold back a business. However, he added, they will engage their clients who deal in regulated products to establish easy it is for them to secure approvals from FDA Rwanda. What’s unclear, he said, is if they don’t want the products to be on the market or if they don’t want them to be advertised because if you are a seller of products, how will people know about them if you don’t advertise them? On this, Dr Emile Bienvenu, the Director General of Rwanda FDA, said that they didn’t take the regulated products off the market. While regulated products such as medicines and food supplements can still be sold, they were different from others. Advertising of medicine for purposes of out-competing others can lead to the provision of false information that may result in harming people’s lives. For example, it is prohibited to advertise a medicine saying that it is more effective than the other medicines on the market, Dr Bienvenu said, adding that providing sentimental and commercial information on public health products was illegal. He revealed that it’s unethical to advertise a medicine on the street or post pictures and say that people who have taken it have become better even as it doesn’t restrict that medicine from being used in hospitals or being sold in pharmacies. About food supplements, he said, as an example, that one is not allowed to advertise a product saying that it increases the bigness of someone very much or by comparing people; one who has used it and another one who hasn’t. Article 7 (I) of the Regulations Governing Promotion and Advertisement of regulated products in Rwanda reads that it is restricted for every person to promote or advertise or carry out any promotional activities of regulated products, prior to obtaining written approval from the Rwanda FDA. Article 8 (I) reads that no person shall promote or advertise any regulated product in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit, safety or efficacy as the case may be. More regulations can be found here. The regulated products listed include human and veterinary drugs, human and animal vaccines, biological products used in clinical settings as drugs, processed food for humans and animals, food supplements, fortified foods, food fortification, and poisonous substances. Others include herbal medicines and medicated cosmetics; also human and veterinary medical devices, tobacco and tobacco products, labels, packages, and raw materials used in the manufacture of regulated products as well as laboratory and cleaning chemicals and pesticides.