07 March 2023
Advertising is undoubtedly a vital component of any successful business marketing tactic. However, while we may be tempted to let our ideas run wild, some industries, such as health and medicine, have strict guidelines that must be followed.
The Ministry of Health has decided to revise regulations for healthcare advertisements after deeming them outdated in light of the digital era. These new guidelines will cover previously grey areas that were not included under the previous Act.
An advertisement is defined as information that promotes the sale or use of a health product. Even if the health provider has published materials on products with the aim of providing information, they may also be deemed as an advertisement.
It can be in several forms of media, such as, but not limited to:
However, references to a certain health product, be it through description, images, or names, can be ruled as an advertisement.
The list of health products that are not allowed to be advertised to the public is:
This is because a doctor or dentist must monitor their usage, along with a clinical assessment of the patient’s conditions, to determine their suitability for undergoing the treatment. Furthermore, the healthcare provider will need to have an informed discussion with the patient to ensure they understand the ins and outs of it.
In the case where advertisements are directed towards healthcare professionals on the list of health products stated above, they must not be easily accessed by the general public such as being displayed on publicly available websites or on social media.
The following medications are allowed to be advertised:
While prior approval by the Health and Science Authority (HSA) is not needed in publishing the advertisement, healthcare service providers still need to follow the regulations that are stated in the Health Products Act (HPA).
Nonetheless, there are still other precautions you’ll have to take:
Information has to be truthful and accurate
Unrealistic expectations about results and effects are not allowed.
Any information that indirectly or directly leads to excessive or inappropriate use of the product by consumers is also to be avoided.
Registered Therapeutic Products and Medical Devices can’t be advertised for uses that are different from the intended uses when it was registered with the HSA.
Class A Medical Devices (MD) that are exempt from product registration must adhere to the Product Owner’s specifications in both their presentation and their advertising for the MD’s intended use.
No promoting cures, preventions, or alleviation of certain diseases and medical conditions.
For the full list of medical conditions and diseases, you can refer to the Third Schedule (Specified diseases or conditions) of the Health Products (Advertisement of Specified Health Products) Regulations. The list includes conditions such as blindness, deafness, epilepsy and infertility.
Endorsements are not allowed.
While endorsements and recommendations by celebrities or professionals, such as doctors and dentists, may help boost awareness and sales, it is prohibited for them to do so for Therapeutic Products.
Claims that suggest the use of such health product is in any way endorsed, promoted, or supported by the government or any public authority, either directly or implied is prohibited.
However, if they are used for factual and educational purposes to provide information on diseases, medical conditions, and treatments, the guideline clearly states that:
“Such information is allowed, provided they are not misleading, and do not create unjustified expectations of the treatments, results by, or promote the use of specific health products.”
Therefore, you’re allowed to produce materials with the intention to educate and inform others about certain health conditions without having to worry about falling foul of the regulations.
Still, you’ll need to ensure the information:
Provides a neutral and unbiased view.
Favouring one treatment over another, promoting it as better than the rest, or encouraging readers to ask their healthcare providers for it may cause your published materials to be considered as an advertisement.
Does not have any promotional elements.
The reference to a health product through brand name, visuals, and descriptions are not allowed along with listing any benefits that come with using them.
Adding on, the use of laudatory terms such as “best”, “fastest”, “premium”, “safest”, and “ideal” should be avoided.
Even the use of Call To Action and promotional terms like “Get it now!”, “Don’t miss out!”, “at a discounted rate”, and “limited time offer” will get your materials classified as an advertisement.
If any of your advertisements have broken the regulations, don’t panic!
PHMCA/HCSA Licensees are given a grace period of up to 31st of March to review any published materials they have regarding health products.
Following the grace period, if licensees are found to have published materials that breached the guidelines, then action may be taken against them!
Contact us at Cleverly so we can help you navigate the ins and outs of advertising guidelines!
We understand that with each review, it can be time consuming to go through all of your formerly published materials to ensure they all toe the line. Furthermore, having to come up with advertisements that follow the regulations can take precious time away from your schedule.
So why not leave them to us? We are always up to date on the latest changes and reviews in guidelines to ensure our client’s can fully focus on their schedules and remain hassle free!
Get in touch wih us today for a free quotation and let us know how we can best assist you!
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