ASA taking action against advertising vitamin shots

19 Jun 2020

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued an Enforcement Notice to the beauty and cosmetic services industry urging businesses to review adverts and make immediate changes.

The Notice targets the promotion of injectable vitamin D and injectable vitamin B12 to UK consumers. As these are prescription-only medicines (POMs) they cannot be advertised to the public.

The Enforcement Notice comes after a similar notice was published in January reminding the industry not to promote POMs such as botulinum toxin to the public.

The ASA has also raised concerns with advertisers stating or implying that such vitamin shots can help to prevent or treat coronavirus/COVID-19. The MHRA considers that any mention of COVID-19 in the promotion of an injectable vitamin product would bring the product under medicines’ regulations. No medicinal products have been licensed for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

The Enforcement Notice urges all advertisers to:

  1. Remove direct references to vitamin D and/or vitamin B12 ‘Vitamin Shots’.
  2. Do not substitute direct references to POMs with indirect phrases that can only refer to a POM. For example, don’t refer to ‘Vitamin Shots’ when these can only refer to injectable vitamin D and/or vitamin B12.
  3. Remove all direct, as well as implied or indirect claims that ‘Vitamin Shots’ could help to prevent or treat coronavirus/COVID-19.

The ASA is now undergoing targeted enforcement with the aid of monitoring technology to find problem ads for removal or sanction. Where advertisers are unwilling to comply they may be referred to the MHRA or the individual’s professional regulatory body.

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