ASA warns against Vitamin D advertising

27 May 2022

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has challenged claims that a food supplement could treat symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

A product listed on My Pharmacy for the food supplement HyxD3 included the claim ‘Effective in treating Vitamin D deficiency’ near the top of the webpage. The website also claimed consumers could purchase prescription treatments online without leaving their home as well as several references to the product as a ‘medicine’.

My Pharmacy acknowledged that the product was a food supplement which was not licensed as a medicine. They explained that the rationale behind the claims that HuxD3 could treat or alleviate the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency was that the food supplement had a similar chemical composition to, and contained the same mass of, vitamin D as Colonis Colecalciferol 20000IU, a medicine licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the treatment of vitamin D deficiency.

The listing also featured terms such as ‘dose’, ‘symptoms’, ‘side effects’ and ‘patient’. The linked patient leaflet was for Colonis Colecalciferol 20000IU, and the ASA concluded that consumers would understand from the listing that HuxD3 was a licensed medicine. Therefore, the ad was deemed misleading.

The ASA has warned that the product listing must not appear again in its current form. My Pharmacy must ensure ads do not state or imply that a food supplement could prevent, treat or cure human disease or treat vitamin or mineral deficiency. Ads could not refer to a food supplement as a ‘medicine’ or were equivalent to a licensed medicine.

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