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Advertising cosmetic injections

Complying with therapeutic goods legislation

14 January 2020

Are your advertisements blemish-free?

Does your business promote cosmetic injections?

Woman receiving a botox injectionIn Australia, advertisements for therapeutic goods, including those used in cosmetic services, must comply with the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

Under the Act, therapeutic goods containing prescription only substances (substances included in Schedule 4 or 8 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons) cannot be advertised to consumers. This includes most injections for cosmetic use.

References to the active ingredients in such products and abbreviations of either the trade or ingredient names are also unacceptable.

Reasons for restrictions

Advertising restrictions for therapeutic goods are in place to protect the health and safety of consumers.

Prescription medicines are considered high risk products, and prior assessment of the patient by a medical professional is required before use.

Advertising that encourages consumers to seek out such products is disruptive to the prescriber‑patient relationship and potentially dangerous.

Definition of an advertisement

In relation to therapeutic goods, an advertisement is broadly defined as any statement, image or design that is intended to promote a product.

This includes promotion in traditional media, such as:

  • television
  • radio
  • newspapers, magazines and pamphlets
  • posters and displays, including those located in stores and surgeries.

It also includes electronic media, such as:

  • websites
  • emails
  • blogs
  • discussion forums
  • social media

Advertising legally

To enable you to continue promoting your services to consumers, while also complying with the law, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published on its website list of acceptable general terms that can be used to describe certain cosmetic injections in advertisements.

Examples of these general phrases include:

  • cosmetic injections
  • anti-wrinkle injections/treatments
  • injections/treatments for lips

Penalties for non-compliance

When non-compliant advertising comes to the TGA's attention, the advertiser is notified.

In the first instance, the TGA seeks to inform, educate and assist advertisers to comply with the rules relating to advertising.

However, if this approach fails, the TGA may take regulatory action.

The Act provides for sanctions and penalties for advertising breaches. There are a range of compliance and enforcement tools that the TGA may use to address non-compliant advertising of therapeutic goods, depending upon the nature of the breach and the risk to posed to public health and safety. Failure to comply may result in civil proceedings or criminal prosecution.

In 2019 the Federal Court of Australia ordered a $10 million penalty against one advertiser for advertising breaches.

Regulatory decision and announcements are published on the TGA website.

Education

The TGA Advertising Hub contains guidance and information including online learning modules, videos, webinars and presentations to assist advertisers of therapeutic goods to understand and comply with the legislation relating to advertising therapeutic goods.

Further information

For further information about advertising therapeutic goods:

Reporting problems

Consumers and health professionals are encouraged to report problems with medicines, vaccines or medical devices.

Reports can be made online at Reporting problems.