Complaints about medicines advertising fall by a third

The number of complaints about medicines advertising made to the safety regulator fell by a third in 2014, according to official figures released on 24 February 2015.

There were 193 complaints made to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2014 compared with 283 in 2013, its annual advertising report reveals.

The regulator says that a high proportion of the complaints related to website adverts for botulinum toxin products and other prescription only medicines directed at the public. But it is seeing increasing complaints about adverts that appear on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

In 2014, complaints about homeopathic medicine adverts were down after a number had been resolved the previous year.

More than 75% of complaints came from competitor companies – reflecting a continuing trend; there were ten complaints from the public and four from healthcare professionals.

The number of complaints concerning third party advertising continued to fluctuate and was slightly higher in 2014 than in 2013. Cases in this category included medicines promotions by pharmacies and efficacy claims for traditional herbal medicines.

Some 181 complaints were resolved by the MHRA during 2014 and 65% of the offending adverts were withdrawn – a similar pattern to previous years.

In 2014, the MHRA’s enforcement group took action to close down 1,600 illicit websites and 19,000 YouTube videos; and it worked with eBay and Amazon to tackle sales of counterfeit medicines, according to the report. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 7 March 2015, Vol 294, No 7852;294(7852):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20067985

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