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Social media & influencers… therapeutic goods and mandatory warning statements

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All advertisements for therapeutic goods must display at least one required ‘mandatory’ statement. These mandatory statements need to be prominently displayed or communicated. The specific statements required depend on:

  • the type of good being advertised
  • the type of advertisement, and
  • whether or not the advertisement will facilitate the purchase of the good.

Short form advertising – exemption from including health warnings

Some forms of advertising, such as written advertisements that are limited to 300 characters or less (eg. ‘hot picks’ pages) are exempt from the requirements to include all of the mandatory statements. In order to meet the requirements for this exemption, advertisements:

  • must only contain text, and
  • must not contain (or be capable of containing) audio, video or still pictures, including pack shots.

However, short form advertisements will still need to prominently display or communicate a statement to follow the direction (or instructions) for use.

Short form advertising must not facilitate the sale of the good.

Social media advertisements will generally not be considered ‘short form’ as there is capacity to include additional information in the advertisement (such as required statements and health warnings).

Prominently displayed or communicated

There can be multiple ways to prominently display or communicate information, depending on the media used for the advertising. However, to satisfy the requirement of being ‘prominently displayed or communicated’ in online advertising (including social media, mobile phone apps and emails) the information needs to be available in the same locale as the advertising content.

Depending on the platform and device being used to convey the advertising, this may be achieved using pop-ups. In the case of visual advertisements not designed to be viewed at once (for example, a webpage that will be scrolled through on a mobile phone), the mandatory information must be repeated as often as necessary to ensure the likelihood that it will be seen by a viewer.

For spoken statements, this may require using a similar volume and delivery (for example pitch, speed) to the name of the therapeutic goods advertised. For example, for a digital advertisement that relies on an actor to impart the therapeutic representations including the ‘main claim’, it may be necessary for any mandatory statements to also be presented by the actor to ensure that they are part of the main message.

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