Promotion of a Prescription-Only Medicine on online Women's Health Magazine UK (National Magazine Company Ltd t/a Hearst UK) – GOV.UK

Promotion of a Prescription-Only Medicine on online Women's Health Magazine UK (National Magazine Company Ltd t/a Hearst UK) – GOV.UK

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Updated 8 November 2022

© Crown copyright 2022
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: psi@nationalarchives.gov.uk.
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advertising-investigations-august-2022/promotion-of-a-prescription-only-medicine-on-online-womens-health-magazine-uk-national-magazine-company-ltd-ta-hearst-uk
Merz Pharma UK Ltd complained about an article about botulinum toxin type A (Botox, a prescription-only medicine [POM]), which appeared on the online version of Women’s Health Magazine UK in June 2022. The complainant alleged that the article fell within the scope of the UK Regulations on the advertising of medicines and would encourage members of the public to request a specific POM. Regulation 284 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 prohibits advertisements to the public that are likely to lead to use of a POM.
MHRA upheld the complaint. We considered that the article could be considered as an advertisement for a medicine because its content, together with direct reference to “Botox” and a named reference to a UK source of supply, encouraged use of the product by highlighting its qualities. Given the audience of the magazine, we therefore also considered that the article breached UK advertising Regulations because it advertised a POM to the general public.
Hearst UK explained that the article was written to provide balanced and factual information on the field of aesthetics treatments, not to promote a POM. However, they acknowledged our view and confirmed that they have removed the article on the online version of Women’s Health Magazine UK. Hearst UK also said that they would endeavour to ensure their editorial teams write future content about medicines in line with MHRA guidance for journalists on reporting to the public about medicines.
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