Policies and Guidelines on the Regulation of Water Treatment Devices/Systems in the Philippines

Policies and Guidelines on the Regulation of Water Treatment Devices/Systems in the Philippines

 

I . RATIONALE

Ensuring the safety of drinking water remains to be one of the major public health issues not only in the Philippines but throughout the world. This concern has led to the emergence and proliferation of various water treatment technologies in the global and local market. Various claims have been advertised by the manufacturers, importers and distributors of these products to promote and sell their products in the market. As a result, people, particularly those in urban areas, tend to drink only treated water from water purification devices/systems and not directly from the city/municipal water supply. To ensure the safety and efficacy and to protect the public from diseases that may arise from the use of these health products, the following policies were developed by the Department of Health:

  • Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Chapter II- “Water Supply” of the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines (PD 856) which provides that “Any person or entity, firm or company involved in the manufacture and sale of water purification equipment, gadgets and devices including household water filters and water purifiers and similar apparatus imported or locally made shall submit an application to the Department of Health (DOH) through the FDA - Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health and Research (former name: Bureau of Health Devices and Technology) for review, testing and certification before they could market the said equipment, gadgets or devices”.
  • Administrative Order 2005-0003 entitled “Guidelines on the Issuance of Certificate of Product Registration for Water Purification Equipment and Devices” and its subsequent amendments (AO 2005-0003-A, AO 2005-0003-B and AO 2005-0003-C)

The above policies cover only the issuance of the Certificate of Product Registration for the abovementioned products and do not include the issuance of a License to Operate to manufacturers, importers and other establishments involved in the distribution of water purification devices/systems and provisions for donated water purification devices/systems.

Section 3 of Republic Act 9711, otherwise known as the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009” states that “It is hereby declared a policy of the State to adopt, support, establish, institutionalize, improve and maintain structures, processes, mechanisms and initiatives that are aimed, directed and designed to: (a) protect and promote the right to health of the Filipino people; and (b) help establish and maintain an effective health products regulatory system and undertake appropriate health manpower development and research, responsive to the country’s health needs and problems. Pursuant to this policy, the State must enhance and improve its regulatory system with regard to licensing of establishment and registration of health products.

RA 9711 through its Implementing Rules and Regulations mandated the FDA to: (a) develop and issue policies, standards, regulations, and guidelines that would cover establishments, facilities and health products; and (b) develop and issue appropriate authorizations that would cover establishments, facilities and health products.

To carry out the above mandates and to effectively implement the regulation of water treatment devices/systems in the Philippines, there is a need to supplement and amend provisions in the above-stated Administrative Orders (AOs). The DOH through the FDA - Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health and Research hereby issues these policies and guidelines revising and supplementing Administrative Order 2005-0003.

II . SCOPE

These guidelines shall apply to all manufactures, exporters, importers and distributors including establishments that assemble, repackage and re-label water treatment systems or devices for the purpose of donation, promotion, given free of charge, selling or commercial distribution in the Philippines. Furthermore, these guidelines shall also cover establishments that sell, install and/or provide repair and maintenance of water treatment system for local water district/water service provider, water refilling station, household, institution, food establishment, office and other commercial establishments. Water treatment systems used in the production of bottled water are not covered by these guidelines.

III. OBJECTIVES

This Administrative Order is promulgated to innovate and improve the regulation of water treatment devices/systems in the Philippines. Specifically, this AO aims to:

  1. Align and harmonize the regulation of water treatment devices/systems with the regulation of other health products under the jurisdiction of the FDA.
  2. Establish rules and regulations in the licensing of establishments covered by this AO.
  3. Amend provisions in the previously issued AOs in the issuance of Certificate of Product Registration for water purification devices/systems as covered in this AO.
  4. Establish rules and regulations for donated water purification devices/systems
  5. Establish guidelines for the issuance of Clearance for Conditional Release to importers of water purification devices/systems prior to Bureau of Custom’s release.
  6. Establish rules and regulations on the packaging and labelling requirements for registered water treatment devices/systems
  7. To prescribe the use of electronic data messages, electronic submission of documents and electronic signatures in the FDA pursuant to Republic Act No. 8792 or the “Electronic Commerce Act of 2000”.

IV. DEFINITION OF TERMS

The following are the definition of terms used in this AO:

  1. Applicant – refers to a local or foreign establishment that seeks to secure a License to Operate or Certificate of Product Registration from FDA-CDRRHR
  1. Authorization – means a permission embodied in a document granted by the FDA to a natural or juridical person who has submitted an application to implement the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offer for sale, distribution, transfer, and/or where appropriate, the use, testing, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of health products. The authorization can take the form of a permit, a license, a certificate of registration, of accreditation, of compliance, or of exemption, or any similar document.
  1. Certificate of Product Registration – a certification issued by the Director of FDA-CDRRHR, attesting the claims of the manufacturer, importer or distributor of the water treatment device/system. Claims can be found in the advertising material, label or manual of the product.
  1. Distributor/Importer/Exporter – means any establishment that imports or exports raw materials, and/or finished products for its own use or for wholesale distribution to other establishments or outlets. If the distributor/importer/exporter sells to the general public, it shall be considered a retailer.
  1. FDA – refers to the Food and Drug Administration created under Republic Act No. 9711
  1. FDA-CDRRHR – refers to the Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health and Research of the Food and Drug Administration
  1. FDA-RFO – refers to the Regional Field Office of the FDA
  1. Establishment - means a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, an institution, an association, or an organization engaged in the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offer for sale, distribution, donation, transfer, use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of water treatment devices/systems, including the facilities and installation needed for its activities. It includes installer of water treatment devices/systems.
  1. Franchisee - is a person, individual or a Corporation duly registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) granted by the franchisor (installer) the right to engage in the business of offering, selling, or distributing product water from a water refilling station under a marketing plan/system/concept, for a certain consideration. Unless otherwise provided, said right includes the use of a trademark, service mark, trade name / business name, know-how, logo-type advertising, or other commercial symbols associated with the franchisor’s water refilling station business.
  1. Installer – refers to an entity or a contractor providing installation, repair and/or maintenance services to operators of water refilling stations and other users of water treatment systems.
  1. Label - means a display of written, printed, or graphic matter on the immediate container, or other materials affixed thereto, of any article. Any word, statement or other information appearing on the label required under authority of the FDA Act of 2009 or other relevant laws shall be deemed complied with if such word, statement or other information also appears on the outside container or wrapper, if any there be, of the retail package of such article, or easily legible through the outside container or wrapper.
  1. Licensing - means the process of approval of an application to operate or establish an establishment prior to engaging in the manufacture, importation, sale, offer for sale, distribution, transfer, and where applicable the use, promotion, advertisement, and/or sponsorship of water treatment devices/systems.
  1. Manufacturer – refers to establishment engaged in any and all operations involved in the production, designing, assembly and/or installation of water treatment devices/systems including preparation, processing, filling, packaging, repackaging, altering, ornamenting, finishing and labelling with the end in view of its storage, sale or distribution.
  1. Misbranding - means, in addition to definitions provided in the Food , Drugs and Devices, and Cosmetics Act and in other relevant laws, giving unsubstantiated claims, misinformation, or misleading information on the label or other information materials, including those contained in brand names or trademarks. It shall not refer to copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property-like instruments.
  1. NRL – refers to the National Reference Laboratory for Environmental and Occupational Health, Toxicology and Micronutrient Assay - East Avenue Medical Center
  1. PNSDW – refers to the latest edition of Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water
  1. Point-of-Use Water Treatment System – A plumbed-in or faucet-mounted system used to treat the drinking water at a single tap or multiple taps but not used to treat the majority of water used for washing and flushing or other non-consumption purposes at a building or facility. Any batch system or device not connected to the plumbing system is considered a point-of-use system.
  1. Re-seller – refers to any establishment, excluding distributor, importer and/or exporter of water treatment device/system, which sells or offers to sell such product directly to the general public.
  1. Retailer – refers to any establishment which sells or offers to sell water treatment device/system directly to the general public.
  1. Water System Components - refers to materials or products that come in contact with drinking water, drinking water treatment chemicals, or both which include, but not limited, process media (carbon, sand, etc.), protective materials (coatings, linings, liners, etc), joining and sealing materials (solvent cement, welding materials, gaskets, etc.), devices used in storing and dispensing water (tanks, water dispenser, etc) and devices used in treatment/transmission/distribution systems (fittings, valves, chlorinators, separation members, etc)
  1. Water Treatment Devices – equipment, apparatus, device or gadget whose purpose is to purify or treat water for drinking purposes.
  1. Water Treatment System – combination of water treatment devices and system components intended to purify or treat water for drinking purposes.

V. GENERAL GUIDELINES

  1. All manufacturers, importers, exporters, installers and distributors of water treatment device/system shall apply for a License to Operate at the FDA. Approval of the LTO shall be based on compliance with the requirements set by the FDA.
  1. No establishment shall operate prior to the issuance of a License to Operate.
  1. All manufacturers, importers, installers, distributors and exporters of water treatment devices/system with valid LTO shall apply for a Certificate of Product Registration for their products. Exporters are not required to secure a CPR for their device/system if such is sold abroad, however, if the product is sold or commercially distributed in the Philippines, exporters shall apply for a CPR for their water purification device/system.
  1. Operators of water refilling station are not required to secure a License to Operate and Certificate of Product Registration based on the following conditions:
  1. The operator has his own design of the water treatment system; and
  2. The operator imported a water treatment system for exclusive use in his water refilling station.
  1. Manufacturers of water treatment devices that are sold directly to end users as replacement parts are also required to apply for a CPR.
  1. No water treatment device/system shall be imported, sold, offered for sale and/or distributed until and unless a CPR has been issued by the FDA.
  1. A Clearance for Conditional Release shall be issued by the CDRRHR to facilitate the release of the water treatment device/system from the Customs custody pending the issuance of CPR. The importer, however shall not sell, distribute or transfer in whole or in part, the water treatment devices/systems to any place other than the address specified in the Conditional Release. Documentary requirements to be submitted when applying for a Clearance for Conditional Release are listed in Annex D. To ensure that no distribution, sale, use and/or transfer of the water treatment devices/systems, the importer shall allow authorized personnel of the FDA to conduct inspection/inventory of the import shipment anytime within official working hours.
  1. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, exporters, private or public organizations, individuals or any entity intending to distribute water treatment devices/system through charities, donations, or promotional activities shall secure a CPR from FDA. In case of a disaster or an emergency wherein there is an urgent need to distribute imported and/or donated water purification devices/systems to the intended end users, the said products shall undergo product performance evaluation by the NRL and/or a DOH accredited water laboratory. The raw water to be collected and analyzed shall come from the source water where the said products will be used. The test report should show compliance of the product water to the PNSDW before the products can be given to the intended end-users. Clearance shall be secured by the concerned entity from the FDA or concerned FDA-Regional Field Office prior to its distribution. Non-functional, worn-out, broken or unsanitary imported donated water treatment devices/system shall be prohibited to enter the Philippines and shall be reshipped to the country of origin at the expense of the recipient, importer, and/or donor. Donated goods shall not be sold to the public.
  1. All establishments shall abide with the guidelines of the FDA on electronic submission and processes of LTO and CPR applications into electronic format pursuant to Republic Act No. 8792 or the “Electronic Commerce Act of 2000”.
  1. All applications and documents to be submitted shall be in English or in Filipino.
  1. All applicants whose documents have deficiencies shall be notified and be given thirty (30) calendar days abeyance period to correct the deficiencies; otherwise, the application shall be disapproved.
  1. All import shipments denied the requisite CPR shall not be disposed of in the domestic market in any manner.
  1. The applicant may apply for an amendment of LTO/CPR based on the circumstances specified in Annex C and shall submit the corresponding documentary requirements, also specified in Annex C.
  1. Required fees shall be paid in accordance with the prescribed fees set by the FDA.

IV. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A LICENSE TO OPERATE

  1. Applicant shall submit the documentary requirements enumerated in Annex A when applying for a License to Operate.
  1. Applicants whose documents have deficiencies shall be notified and be given a period of thirty (30) calendar days to correct the deficiencies; otherwise, the application shall be disapproved.
  1. The FDA inspector shall conduct an inspection of the establishment’s office and storage facility/warehouse for the following applications:
    • Initial application for LTO
    • Change of Ownership
    • Change of address
  1. The following are the requirements that shall be complied with during the inspection:
  2. The documents submitted shall be validated against the original copy of the establishment.
  3. The establishment’s distribution records shall be presented and a sample copy shall be submitted.
  4. The storage facility/warehouse shall have adequate space to allow an orderly storage of the products.
  5. The storage facility shall be clean, dry and with proper lighting and ventilation.
  6. The storage condition shall not cause any spoilage and/or damage to the product and its packaging. Pallets, racks or other fixtures shall be provided to avoid the products from being placed directly on the floor.
  7. There shall be no presence of vermin such as flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, mice or rats in the office and storage facility/warehouse of the establishment.
  8. First-in, first-out system shall be implemented in the storage facility/warehouse.
  9. The proper labelling of the product shall be verified (if applicable).
  10. A designated area for the damaged and returned products shall be provided by the establishment.
  1. Validity of the LTO

The License to Operate shall be valid for two (2) years from date of issuance and subject to renewal unless sooner suspended or revoked in accordance with the regulations of R.A. 9711. Renewed LTO shall be valid for three (3) years.

  1. Lost Copy of LTO

Establishments who lost their original copy of LTO shall secure an authenticated copy of the original LTO, submit an affidavit of loss to and pay the prescribed fee at the FDA-CDRRHR.

  1. Late filing of application for renewal of LTO

Late filing of application for renewal of LTO shall be subject to a surcharge or penalty in accordance with Book II Article I Section 3.A.2 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9711. 

  1. Assignment and Transfer of Pending Applications, Existing Licenses

Requirements for assignment or transfer of a valid and unexpired LTO, or pending application for renewal thereof shall be in accordance with Book II Article I Sec. 3.A.3 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9711.

  1. Grounds for Disapproval of LTO Application

Any of the following or similar instances shall be ground for the disapproval of an application for a License to Operate

  • The application requirements submitted show that the establishment does not meet the required technical requirements or appropriate standards;
  • The applicant made misrepresentations, false entries, or withheld any relevant data contrary to the provisions of the law, the R.A. 9711 Rules and Regulations or appropriate standards;
  • The applicant failed to comply with the requirements specified in the notice of deficiency within thirty (30) calendar days from receipt of the notice;
  • Such other analogous grounds or causes as determined by the FDA.
  1. Grounds for Suspension, Revocation, or Cancellation of LTO

 

Any of the following or similar instances shall be ground for the suspension, revocation or cancellation of a License to Operate

  • The owner has violated any of the terms and conditions of its license;
  • Change of ownership or management of the establishment if the holder of the LTO failed to apply for an amendment at the FDA-CDRRHR before the expiration date of the LTO;
  • Such other analogous grounds or causes as determined by the FDA.

VII. SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A CERTIFICATE OF PRODUCT REGISTRATION

  1. Application for registration shall be applied on a per design for water treatment system/device, per product type and/or per brand except if the difference is in the size and/or capacity of the device.
  1. Applicant shall submit the documentary requirements enumerated in Annex B when applying for a Certificate of Product Registration.
  1. All water treatment devices/systems shall undergo product performance evaluation which shall be conducted by NRL or any FDA recognized testing laboratory upon the endorsement of FDA-CDRRHR for initial registration. NRL shall inform the FDA-CDRRHR of the action taken within thirty (30) days from receipt of the endorsement letter.
  1. Approval of the applied CPR shall be based on compliance with the requirements set by the FDA-CDRRHR and the PNSDW or other applicable Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water Treatment Units. Water treatment device/system shall be evaluated depending on the claims of the manufacturer, importer or distributor of the product. Approved claim shall be indicated on the advertising materials, in the operation manual or in the label affixed on the device/system.
  1. FDA may recognize laboratories for testing procedures not prescribed in the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water but are prescribed in other Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water Treatment Units.
  1. The CPR shall be issued and approved by the FDA-CDRRHR Director by authority of the Director General. Initial CPR shall be valid for five (5) years from

date of issuance and subject to renewal unless sooner suspended or revoked in accordance with the regulations of the FDA-CDRRHR. Renewed CPR shall be valid for five (5 years).

  1. Late filing of application for renewal of CPR

Late filing of application for renewal of CPR shall be subject to a surcharge or penalty in accordance with Book II Article I Section 3.B.2 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9711. 

  1. Validity of CPR

The CPR shall be valid for five (5) years from date of issuance and subject to renewal unless sooner suspended or revoked in accordance with the regulations of R.A. 9711. Renewed CPR shall be valid for five (5) years.

  1. Lost Copy of CPR

Establishments who lost their original copy of CPR shall secure an authenticated copy of the original CPR, submit an affidavit of loss to and pay the prescribed fee at the FDA-CDRRHR.

  1. Assignment and Transfer of Pending Applications, Existing Product Registration

Requirements for assignment or transfer of a valid and unexpired CPR, or pending application for renewal thereof shall be in accordance with Book II Article I Sec. 3.B.3 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9711.

  1. CPR Exemption

The following shall be exempted from applying for a CPR based on the following conditions:

  • Establishments that manufacture water treatment devices/systems for the purpose of selling or supplying to another establishment for further processing or assembly by the latter.
  • Distributors of locally manufactured water treatment devices that have already been issued a CPR for their product.
  • When there is a change or modification of a device/system the manufacturer already markets, provided however, that the purpose of such modification is to increase the capacity of the device/system and that there is no change in the efficacy of the device/system.
  • Distributors of imported water treatment devices whose foreign manufacturer or his representative in the Philippines has already been issued a CPR.
  • Re-sellers of water treatment device/system.
  • Water purification devices/systems that are sold solely abroad or in other countries.
  1. Grounds for Disapproval of CPR Application

Any of the following or similar instances shall be ground for the disapproval of an application for a Certificate of Product Registration

  • The application requirements submitted show that the establishment does not meet the required technical requirements, PNSDW or other appropriate standards;
  • The applicant made misrepresentations, false entries, or withheld any relevant data contrary to the provisions of the law, the R.A. 9711 Rules and Regulations, PNSDW or other appropriate standards;
  • The applicant failed to comply with the requirements specified in the notice of deficiency within thirty (30) calendar days from receipt of the notice;
  • Failure of the applicant to have its water purification device/system undergo product performance evaluation within 30 calendar days from receipt of notice from NRL-EAMC.
  • Such other analogous grounds or causes as determined by the FDA.
  1. Grounds for Suspension, Revocation or Cancellation of CPR
  • The holder or owner has violated any of the terms and conditions of its authorization or registration;
  • The label/claim of the water treatment device/system is false and misleading or does not conform with current labelling requirements;
  • Any modification in the approved commercial presentation of the product; and
  • Such other analogous grounds or causes as determined by the FDA.

VIII. LABELING AND PACKAGING REQUIREMENTS AND DISPLAY OF CPR

  1. The FDA shall enforce mandatory labelling and packaging to enable the user to obtain accurate information as to the nature of the water treatment devices/system.
  1. The following shall be included/indicated on the packaging of the water treatment devices/systems:
  • Name and address of local manufacturer, importer or distributor or installer of the water treatment device/system
  • LTO and CPR number issued by FDA.
  1. All writings on the packaging shall be written/printed in English and/or Filipino.
  1. For water refilling stations, local water districts and water service providers, and/or CPR shall be displayed in a conspicuous place in the establishment.

IX. RESPONSIBILITIES OF RE-SELLERS

Re-sellers selling water treatment devices/systems in the Philippine market are required to:

  1. Buy water treatment devices/system only from local manufacturers, importers and distributors with a valid LTO from FDA-CDRRHR;
  1. Sell or offer for sale only water treatment devices/systems that were issued a CPR; and
  1. Post in a conspicuous place the list of their water treatment device/system suppliers/distributors.

X. RESPONSIBILITIES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS

  1. The local government units through the local chief executives are enjoined to pass an ordinance in support of the implementation of the provisions of this AO.
  1. The local chief executives are encouraged to require the prescribed LTO and/or CPR to the manufacturers, importers, exporters, installers and distributors of water treatment devices/system and to the operators of water refilling stations prior to the issuance of sanitary permit to the concerned establishments.

XI. PROHIBITED ACTS

  1. The manufacture, importation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, or retail of any water treatment device/system by any natural or juridical person without a valid License to Operate from the FDA
  1. The manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising or sponsorship of any water treatment device/system that is unregistered or misbranded
  1. The adulteration or misbranding of any water treatment device/system
  1. The refusal to permit entry or inspection of the office premises, warehouse by the FDA personnel as authorized by the Secretary of Health/FDA-Director-General/FDA Regional Director
  1. The alteration, mutilation, destruction, obliteration, or removal of the whole or any part of the labelling of, or the doing of any other act with respect to water treatment devices/systems if such act is done while such article is held for sale (whether or not the first sale) and results in such article being adulterated or misbranded.
  1. The manufacture, importation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertisement, or sponsorship of any water treatment device/system which, although requiring registration, is not registered with FDA pursuant to this AO
  1. Modification in the approved commercial presentation of the product without prior approval from the FDA-CDRRHR.

 XII. PENALTY CLAUSE

Sanctions over violations of any provisions of this Administrative Order shall follow the Rules of Administrative Procedure provided in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9711.

 XIII TRANSITORY PROVISION

Upon  effectivity of this Order, all manufacturers, importers, exporters, installers and all other establishments within the scope of this Order that are already in operation shall be given six (6) months from the date of publication of this Order in leading newspaper to comply with the provisions of this guideline. A certificate of pending application shall be given upon request of the company.

XIV. Separability Clause

In the event that any rule, section, paragraph, sentence, clause or words of this Administrative Order is declared invalid for any reason, the other provisions hereof shall not be affected.

XV. repealing clause

Administrative Order No. 2005-0003 and its amendments, rules and regulations and all other administrative issuances or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Administrative Order are hereby repealed or amended accordingly.

 XVI. EFFECTIVITY

This Administrative Order shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following the completion of its publication in a newspaper of general circulation and filing with the University of the Philippines - Office of the National Administrative Register (UP-ONAR).

 

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