ASA bans four ads for sclerotherapy treatments

We have proactively banned three ads for sclerotherapy treatments, for advertising prescription-only medicines (POMs).

Following legislation, our rules make it clear that businesses can’t advertise POMs to the public. Ensuring these rules are followed is a high priority area for us. For example, following an Enforcement Notice in 2020 to the industry, we’ve seen fifty thousand ads for Botox withdrawn from Instagram, with Meta’s assistance.

Sclerotherapy – a treatment for varicose veins, done for aesthetics as well as to reduce aching, swelling and cramping – requires the use of a POM. As such, it can’t be advertised towards the general public.

These three ads all broke the rules by advertising sclerotherapy on social media. We’ve banned these ads and told the advertisers to ensure their future content follows the rules. And we’ve banned a fourth ad over training courses for sclerotherapy, without making clear the nature, requirements, qualifications and possible professional registration details of the course.

We’re using these rulings to remind practitioners to be mindful of the rules around POMs. Ads shouldn’t appear on social media, and on websites they can advertise a service but not a specific product. They should avoid before-and-after photos, special offers or prizes.

Miles Lockwood, Director of Complaints and Investigations at the ASA said:

“It’s really important that ads aren’t marketing POMs to the public. Those are rules set out in legislation, and we enforce them to ensure that consumers are protected.

“We know that sole traders and small businesses aren’t always aware of the how the rules apply to their work, particularly online and on social media. These rulings, alongside our training programmes, will remind businesses of their responsibilities around advertising treatments that use POMs.”

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