Healthcare advice inspired by World Health Day.
Earlier this month (7 April) we saw World Health Day and one of the key messages from the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year was that “Health is a human right; it’s time for health for all”. With that in mind, it’s important that ads for healthcare products and services are responsible and that vulnerable consumers aren’t misled. To help to keep you on right track, here is some condensed guidance provided by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) for advertising healthcare products and services.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies
There is a well-established and considerable market for complementary and alternative therapies, which sits alongside more traditional healthcare approaches. There are myriad alternative therapies with some regulated by statute and their efficacy claims supported by large amounts of high level clinical evidence (such as Chiropractic and Osteopathy) and others relatively new or unknown which are not supported by the same levels of evidence.
Practitioners are reminded that in order to make any direct or implied efficacy claims for their therapy, they need to hold robust clinical evidence. This CAP Guidance explains more.
The ASA recently announced some very relevant and significant work the Compliance team are doing in relation to CEASE therapy. CEASE therapy (Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression) is a form of homeopathic treatment which some therapists claim can treat or cure autism.
It’s the understanding of the ASA and CAP that autism cannot be “cured” and such claims are therefore likely to be considered misleading unless they are supported by a large body of clinical evidence – something neither CAP nor the ASA has seen.
Medicines need to be licensed before being sold and marketed in the UK and claims to “prevent”, “treat” or “cure” an adverse medical condition cannot be made for unlicensed medicines.
The MHRA Blue Guide should be consulted before making any medicinal claims.
Medical devices need to be CE Marked in line with Medical Devices Directive before medical claims can be made in ads and those medical claims need to be supported by robust documentary evidence in the form of clinical trials.
This MHRA Guidance provides more useful information.
Other than for licensed medicines, advertisers who are not deemed to be a “suitably qualified health professional” should not offer advice, diagnosis or treatment on conditions for which medical supervision should be sort. This is in order to prevent consumers being discouraged from seeking essential treatment.
This CAP Guidance explains the position in more detail.
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