Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Medicines & Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 28 May 2020
Law stated as at: 10 June 2020
The ASA recently issued an enforcement notice relating to ads that feature injectable vitamin D and/or vitamin B12 “vitamin shots”. The ASA’s understanding is that all licensed forms of injectable vitamin D and vitamin B12 are prescription-only medicines, which means (like botox and other botulinum toxin products) they cannot be advertised to the public.
From 10 June onwards, the ASA will start targeted enforcement to find problematic ads featuring vitamin D and vitamin B12 for removal or sanction. This applies regardless of the medium of the ad; this enforcement note captures all types of ads.
The ASA recommends promptly removing all references to vitamin D and/or B12 “vitamin shots”. Such claims should also not be substituted with indirect (or alternative) phrases that can only refer to prescription-only medicines.
The remit of the enforcement notice only includes non-prescription-only medicines and other shots that do not contain vitamin D or vitamin B12. However, any ads must still nonetheless be compliant with advertising regulations.
In relation to all “vitamin shot” ads generally (which do not necessarily refer to vitamin D and/or vitamin B12), the ASA has raised concern about claims that state or imply that “vitamin shots” can help treat or prevent Covid-19. The MHRA has stated that no medicinal products have been licensed for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19, and any references to Covid-19 must be removed. This also follows another enforcement notice recently issued by the ASA against claims that intravenous drips could cure or prevent Covid-19.
Why this matters:
From 10 June onwards, the ASA will start targeted enforcement about ads relating to vitamin D and/or vitamin B12 as they are prescription-only medicines. In some cases, the ASA may refer certain companies to the MHRA if advertisers are unwilling to co-operate.