Helpful information on the advertising rules for products used to treat health conditions, and examples of previous Advertising Standards Authority rulings in this area.
Many advertisers of health-related products or therapies are keen to list ailments that they believe their products or therapies can treat. However, the advertising rules restrict the types of claims anyone other than qualified health professionals can make.
The rules classify ailments in to two groups: those that can be acceptably referred to in ads targeted at the general public or those that can’t because they are considered too serious to be diagnosed or treated without relevant medical supervision. Any claims made must be backed up by robust evidence.
Examples of ailments that may be referred to in ads, providing the advertiser can prove the efficacy of the product or therapy, include: arthritic pain, trouble sleeping, smoking cessation and minor sports injuries. Examples of ailments that can’t usually be referred to in ads include: arthritis, depression, diabetes, infertility and impotence.
Claims that a product can “cure”, “restore”, “prevent”, “avoid”, “fight” or “heal” should be avoided as these are generally considered as medicinal claims and should only be made if the product has a MHRA licence.