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Case study: Medicinal cannabis prescription services

12 November 2020

About the advertising

On 28 October 2018, the TGA received a complaint about advertising by a clinic, which offered medical services, including services involving medicinal cannabis.

Advertising on its Facebook page, it promoted the use of medicinal cannabis for treating conditions including chronic pain, palliative care, epilepsy, chemotherapy induced vomiting/nausea, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, PTSD, depression, fibromyalgia, autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, anorexia and wasting associated illness, Parkinson's Disease, seizure management, Tourette's and tremors.

Details of non-compliance

By promoting medicinal cannabis, the clinic advertised a prescription medicine which cannot be advertised to the public, breaching sections 42DL(10) and 42DLB(7) of the Act.

It is also an offence to advertise therapeutic goods to consumers with references to serious health conditions that are either restricted or prohibited representations; these may only be used with prior TGA authorisation. For restricted representations, this is a breach of sections 42DL(7) and 42DLB(4) of the Act while the use of prohibited representations is a breach of sections 42DL(5) and 42DLB(2) of the Act.

Actions taken

The TGA issued a cease and desist letter, advising the clinic to remove non-compliant advertising from its Facebook page. The TGA also provided guidance to the broader cannabis industry to help it continue its services without illegally promoting the prescribed product. The advertiser addressed the advertising compliance concerns.