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Therapeutic goods that are registered or listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) are subject to strict advertising requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (the Code). For instance, the Code seeks to ensure that advertisements for any therapeutic goods are made in a socially responsible way and promote the safe use or supply of therapeutic goods. This article explains what you need to consider if you are advertising a therapeutic good on social media platforms. 

General Advertising Rules 

Under the Code, an advertisement is any statement, pictorial representation or design that you intend, either directly or indirectly, to promote the use or supply of therapeutic goods. Therefore, it must comply with the requirements under the Code. 

Generally, the Code requires any advertisement to be accurate, balanced and substantiated such that they do not mislead or deceive consumers. Additionally, any claims made about the good must be consistent with its indication on its ARTG registration and must not claim that the product can diagnose, treat or cure a serious condition without prior approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

For example, this article explains how you can advertise a therapeutic good to the public. 

Being an Advertiser of Therapeutic Goods on Social Media 

Above all, a social media post by an advertiser that promotes the use or supply of therapeutic goods is an advertisement and must comply with the Code. 

For example, under the Code, an advertiser means a person who: 

  • advertises, by any means, therapeutic goods; or
  • causes the advertising, by any means, of therapeutic goods. 

There are no specific provisions under the Code relating to advertising on social media. However, this definition of an advertiser is broad. The definition can extend to: 

  • business owners responsible for websites, social media pages, platforms and accounts managed by those businesses; and 
  • social media influencers who have been asked to promote therapeutic goods.

Advertising can also include sponsored posts and certain discussion forums. 

Advertiser’s Responsibilities

In general, an advertiser must ensure that they undertake marketing and advertising of therapeutic goods in a way that: 

  • promotes the proper use of the product; 
  • is socially responsible; and
  • overall does not create a misleading or deceptive impression on the consumer. 

More specifically, an advertiser must be aware of the requirements for social media advertisements. This includes: 

  • complying with mandatory statements and health warnings that you must include depending on the type of therapeutic good that you are advertising; 
  • ensuring that advertisements are consistent with the purpose entered on the ARTG for the therapeutic good; 
  • ensuring that advertisements do not include any prohibited or restricted representations without approval from the TGA; and 
  • making appropriate disclosures when using testimonials in advertisements (for example, disclosing whether the testimonial provider received ‘valuable consideration’ to provide the testimonial). 

Considerations for Advertisers

For example, if you are a business: 

  • consider what social media content and sites you have responsibility over and what advertising is on those sites; 
  • consider adopting an ‘acceptable social media use policy’ on your social media pages setting out non-compliant content. The TGA has published an example of acceptable use policy; and 
  • monitor the information on your social media channels to ensure that no one is posting or advertising misinformation (for example, through user-generated content).

For example, if you are a social media influencer who has been engaged to advertise a therapeutic good: 

  • ensure that you understand what the approved purpose of the therapeutic good you are promoting is. Also, ensure that you are only advertising the good for that purpose; and 
  • consider whether the endorsement that you are making will be considered to be a testimonial for that therapeutic good. Further, if you are receiving payment for the advertisement, you will need to disclose to your audience that you have received valuable consideration to make the testimonial. Note that testimonials are not permitted by those involved in the production, sale, supply or marketing of the goods. 

Higher Risk Therapeutic Goods

Note that the TGA does not permit you to directly advertise certain therapeutic goods to the public that are higher risk (such as prescription and certain pharmacist-only medicines). Therefore, before making any advertisements to the public about the product, you must understand what: 

  • category your product belongs to; and
  • requirements apply to your product.

Key Takeaways 

Above all, advertisements for therapeutic goods must comply with the Code, including any advertisements on social media or by social media influencers. As an advertiser, whether a business owner or social media influencer, you should ensure that any marketing or advertisements that you make on social media, reflect the registered indication on the ARTG for the therapeutic good, that any claims being made about the product are safe and not misleading. In addition, if the advertisement includes any testimonials, you should consider who is making those testimonials and if you need to make a financial disclaimer for valuable consideration. For advice regarding advertising therapeutic goods on social media, contact LegalVision’s advertising compliance lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do social media posts need to comply with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code?

Yes. A social media post by an advertiser that promotes the use or supply of therapeutic goods is an advertisement. Therefore, it must comply with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code. 

What are some requirements for advertising therapeutic goods?

Businesses or individuals must ensure that they advertise therapeutic goods in a way that promotes the proper use of the product and is socially responsible. Additionally, overall it must not create a misleading or deceptive impression on the consumer. 

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