Advertising Vitamin Drips – Injecting regulatory knowledge with a quick jab


INSIGHT
Published
Feb 22nd '24
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Vitamin drips, or intravenous nutritional therapy (IVNTs) have increased in popularity and the claimed benefits of IV vitamin infusions were the subject of three Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) rulings in December 2023. 

 

Because they were new to the ASA and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the ASA asked an expert to look at the necessary evidence standards for claims about the benefits of IVNTs, as well as looking at whether the evidence held by the marketers for claims about their individual drips met those standards.

 

A rich vein of information

The ASA accepts oral supplementation evidence might form part of a body of evidence for IVNTs. In any event the evidence should demonstrate:

 

  • the benefits of the IVNT are instantaneous and a more effective way of delivering nutrition (than diet/oral supplements).
  • the IVNT provides superior health benefits, more quickly, than the same nutrients administered through other methods.
  • a correlation between a specific dose and the stated health benefit.
  • the IVNT contains no additional ingredients which could impact the effectiveness of the nutrients.
  • the lack of involvement of the gut microbiome does not prevent the nutrient from having the claimed effect.

 

It is unlikely to be acceptable to rely on studies which examine regular supplementation and extrapolate it to a one-off IVNT infusion.

 

It is unlikely to be acceptable to rely on evidence which considers the treatment of a vitamin deficiency.

 

The ASA is likely to expect all evidence to be methodologically robust with clinically significant outcomes that are directly relevant to the health benefits claimed in the ad. This AdviceOnline article examines the expected evidence base for IVNTs in more detail.

 

Health vs medicinal claims – don’t miss the point!

IVNTs are distinct from IV medicines which are typically prescribed in a primary or secondary healthcare setting.

 

Medicinal claims are not permitted for IVNTs unless that specific product has been licensed as a medicine for that purpose.

 

In 2020, the ASA published rulings about advertising claims that IV drips could be used to prevent or treat COVID-19.  Because the ads for the IV drips made medicinal claims for products which were not licensed as medicines to treat or prevent COVID-19, the ASA ruled that the ads breached the CAP Code (rules 12.1 and 12.11).  (Cosmetic Medical Advice UKThe Private Harley Street Clinic and Reviv UK Ltd, 22 April 2020).

 

In the same vein, marketers are reminded that prescription-only IV’s or vitamin injections cannot be advertised to the public. In 2022, an advertiser fell foul of rule 12.12 by advertising vitamin B12 injections to the public.

 

If you need further advice see our AdviceOnline entry on IVNTs here.

 

Source: CAP

 

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