The prohibition on advertising prescription-only medicines (POMs) or prescription-only medical treatments to the public applies to all advertising material including company websites and social media (rule 12.12). POMs should be prescribed by GPs or other suitably qualified healthcare professionals on the basis of an informed decision following a consultation. In all media (apart from company websites, see below) references to POMs should not be made at all, as this is likely to be seen as promoting a POM.

Given that consumers shouldn’t receive a POM unless a consultation has taken place, ads should only promote a consultation for particular conditions such as erectile dysfunction, excessive sweating, weight control issues or lines and wrinkles rather than specific products.

The exception for company websites allows POMs to be referred to in certain places, where balanced and factual information that is clearly non-promotional is included. In order to avoid confusing information which does not fall within the scope of rule 12.12, and advertising content, the following should be taken into account:

Ads for POMs are acceptable if they are directed at healthcare professionals. Ideally, sections of a website not aimed at the public should be access restricted. Otherwise, the sections for each target audience should be clearly separated.

All promotional and non-promotional material is also subject to UK medicines legislation. Contact the MHRA for guidance.

See our Help Note on the Marketing of Cosmetic Interventions and contact CAP Copy Advice here for guidance under the CAP Code.

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