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Advertising for health services

12 November 2020

To ensure that your advertisement for a health service isn't also considered an advertisement for therapeutic goods, do not refer to any therapeutic goods used in the delivery of the service in the advertisement.

Advertising for services that inherently involve therapeutic goods, need to comply with the legislative requirements for advertising therapeutic goods as well as any requirements governing the advertising of services.

Cosmetic injection services

Cosmetic injectables that contain prescription-only substances, which cannot be advertised to the public.

You cannot make any reference in your advertisement to these substances or to product trade names. This includes acronyms, nicknames, abbreviations and hashtags, which may be taken by a consumer as a reference to the specific medicine or substance.

Advertising cosmetic injectables compliantly

To legally promote your service to the public, there are some acceptable general terms that you can use to describe cosmetic injectables in advertisements.

Acceptable general terms include:

  • Anti-wrinkle injections
  • Dermal fillers
  • Improvement of the appearance of submental fat.

You may also use other words and phrases with similar meaning, provided that they do not refer to prescription-only substances or products containing these substances.

Medicinal cannabis prescribers

In Australia, medicinal cannabis must be prescribed by a medical practitioner and if not on the ARTG, requested by the medical practitioner for the patient through special pathways for accessing unapproved medicines.

Prescription-only medicines and unapproved medicines cannot be advertised to the public.

Advertising for a health service with references to medicinal cannabis would have the effect of advertising medicinal cannabis.

Advertising medicinal cannabis prescription services compliantly

To legally promote your service to the public, focus your advertising on the health services you provide and do not refer to medicinal cannabis products. This includes in your business name, abbreviations or acronyms of substances, colloquial names or with imagery.

Factual and balanced statements about medicinal cannabis are those that do not promote the use or supply of medicinal cannabis and may, depending on the context, not be considered to be advertising. We encourage health professionals involved with the prescription of medicinal cannabis to direct current or prospective clients to our website for important patient information relating to medicinal cannabis.

Find out more about how to promote your business and service without advertising medicinal cannabis to the public.

Compounding pharmacies

Extemporaneously compounded medicines are those prepared by community and hospital pharmacies for patients with requirements that can't be met with existing commercially produced medicines.

Ads for compounded medicines must not refer to any medicine that contains a prescription-only substance, even when the:

  • Substance is one of many, including non-prescription substances
  • Ad does not refer to the prescription-only substance by name.

Advertising compounding services compliantly

To legally promote your service to the public, focus your advertising on the services you provide and do not refer to prescription-only substances or products containing these substances.

Take care to avoid referring to serious forms of diseases, conditions, ailments or defects without prior authorisation from the TGA. These references are prohibited or restricted representations.

Vaccine providers

All vaccines for human use are prescription-only medicines and cannot be advertised to the public using brand names or ingredients.

Vaccine service providers cannot make any reference in advertising to vaccine brands, product names or ingredients. It's also recommended that you avoid using:

  • References to potentially harmful effects from not receiving the vaccine
  • Comparisons between vaccine types or pricing
  • Incentives to encourage vaccine usage
  • Information that conflicts with public health policies or campaigns.

Advertising vaccination services compliantly

To legally promote your service to the public, focus your advertising on the services you provide and do not refer to prescription-only substances or products containing these substances.

Vaccine service providers can use Australian government public health campaign advertising if displayed in full and unaltered.

Services involving biologicals

Human Cell and Tissue (HCT) products comprise, contain, or are derived from human cells and/or tissues.

Under the therapeutic goods legislation, most HCT products are regulated as biologicals, which cannot be advertised to the public.

You cannot refer to these products when advertising your services, including brand names, abbreviations, specific references to cell types or any colloquial terms like 'stem cells'.

Advertising services using HCT products compliantly

To legally promote your service to the public, focus your advertising on the services you provide and do not refer to HCT products or therapy procedures using these products.

Find out more about how to promote your business and service without advertising biologicals to the public.

Disease education

Disease education activities can be a valuable source of information for Australian consumers as they raise awareness about diseases, aid recognition of symptoms and encourage consumers to seek appropriate advice if necessary.

These activities often involve providing information about diseases or conditions that require management by a health professional and include references to a range of treatment options.

If the information provided is likely to encourage consumers to seek to obtain a particular good, or seek a prescription for a particular medicine, then it will be considered an advertisement.

Providing disease education services compliantly

Educators must take care that the information they provide does not inadvertently become advertisements for therapeutic goods.

Factual statements about the treatments and therapies that do not promote the use or supply of therapeutic goods may not, depending on the context, amount to advertising.

However if it is advertising, you must consider the applicable regulatory requirements relating to advertising therapeutic goods.

Find out more about how to promote your business and service without advertising therapeutic goods to the public.