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Warning about advertising that conflicts with stay at home when sick advice

28 May 2020

The TGA is reminding advertisers that therapeutic goods advertising must not undermine public health campaigns, as the cold and flu season begins in Australia and COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

If you advertise cold and flu medicines, you must ensure that the advertising is not inconsistent with the current public health advice about COVID-19. Promoting a product as enabling someone to attend a workplace, school or other activity outside of home while experiencing cold and flu symptoms (even if temporarily controlled) conflicts with the Department of Health's advice to stay home when unwell.

Advertising to consumers for therapeutic goods must comply with all applicable requirements in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). This includes the requirement to comply with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (the Code). The Code prohibits advertising that is inconsistent with government public health campaigns, so that important public health messages are not undermined.

The Department of Health's good hygiene for coronavirus page contains current information and advice.

If you are advertising therapeutic goods directly in relation to COVID-19, you should be aware there are sanctions and penalties for advertising that does not comply with the Act and the Code. Claims about COVID-19 are not permitted in consumer advertising, with the exception of certain disinfectants. General information on advertising requirements can be found on the TGA's Advertising hub.

Information for consumers

The TGA would also like to remind consumers to follow the advice provided by the Department of Health in relation to stopping the spread of COVID-19:

  • It is important that you stay at home if you feel unwell. You should also continue to practise good hygiene.
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms you should seek medical advice and get tested for COVID-19.
  • If you have COVID-19 you must isolate and follow the directions of your local Public Health Unit.

Any advertisement that encourages you to continue with your daily activities outside of home, such as going to work, while experiencing cold and flu symptoms, is in conflict with this advice.

Symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, fever, runny nose, headache and muscle or joint pain that are commonly associated with cold and flu season may also be experienced by people with COVID-19. Because of this, it is important that people experiencing these symptoms take appropriate precautions.

For further information please see Warning about products claiming to treat or prevent the novel coronavirus.