Enforcing ad rules on prenatal testing

Jan 16th '20

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have published a new Enforcement Notice on Advertising Non-invasive Prenatal Testing (hereafter NIPT), which is a type of prenatal screening for genetic conditions which uses a maternal blood test to examine foetal DNA. It is offered on the NHS in some regions but also through private clinics.

Ads for NIPT commonly cite “Detection Rates” of 95%+ for their accuracy in screening potential genetic conditions. Although CAP understand that detection rates are clinically useful in some contexts, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recently ruled that quoting detection rates alone in marketing material is likely to mislead consumers.

Advertising do’s and don’ts

  1. Ads for NIPT should not quote “Detection Rate” figures in ads, unless:

The figures are accompanied by (i.e. alongside):

  • A robust “Positive Predictive Value”* figure; AND
  • Clear explanations about what both figures mean.
  1. Ads for NIPT should not use the term “diagnostic” to describe NIPT.

* A “Positive Predictive Value” figure has been described as the proportion of patients given a “positive” result from NIPT who subsequently had the condition confirmed in the foetus.

What next?

The CAP Compliance team will take targeted enforcement action from Monday 17 February 2020 to ensure a level-playing-field, which may include – where advertisers are unwilling to comply – referral to Trading Standards or a relevant professional regulatory body.

Read the Enforcement Notice now.

Source: CAP

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