Enforcement Update – Ads for Kenalog injections

Today we published a new Enforcement Notice with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) about the advertising of Kenalog injections on social media. Kenalog is a prescription-only medicine (POM) which must not be directly or indirectly advertised to the public.

Kenalog is a brand name for triamcinolone acetonide. It is a steroid injection currently offered by a number of beauty and aesthetics clinics as a treatment for hay fever, and advertised widely on clinic websites and social media. It is not licensed in the UK for the treatment of hay fever.

The Enforcement Notice follows the publication of ASA rulings against a number of beauty and aesthetics clinics for the advertising of Kenalog injections for the treatment of hay fever, including Skincodes Aesthetics, Lucy Isabella Beauty and Aesthetics, Sarean Aesthetics,  The Skin Clinic Faversham and Elite Aesthetic Clinic.

In summary, the Enforcement Notice makes clear that when promoting services for the treatment of hay fever on social media, advertisers must remove direct references to Kenalog in the text of a post, as well as in images and hashtags. Indirect references such as “hay fever injection” and “hay fever jab” will be considered by the ASA to have the same effect as promoting Kenalog and should be avoided. This applies to the use of emojis (i.e syringe emojis), company or social media account names, testimonials and memes.

Similarly, when promoting consultations for the treatment of hay fever, care should be taken to ensure that Kenalog is neither directly nor indirectly advertised.

From Monday 29 August 2022, the Compliance team will take targeted enforcement action using our monitoring technology to remove non-compliant ads and help ensure a level-playing-field.

For full details, please see our Enforcement Notice. If you advertise in this market, please review the Notice and take immediate steps to check your advertising and make any changes as needed.

Shahriar Coupal, Director of CAP, said:

“Our enforcement notice, published jointly with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, makes it abundantly clear that Kenalog, as a prescription-only-medicine, should not be directly or indirectly advertised to the public. Our rules apply across media, but we are particularly concerned about the prevalence of Kenalog injection advertising on social media. Through our use of technology and data science, we will proactively monitor and take enforcement action against any advertiser that is unable to stick to the rules so there is a level playing field for businesses and consumers are protected.”

Claire Tilstone, Head of Advertising at MHRA said: 

“Social media offers a powerful advertising tool for clinics but they must remain aware of the rules that surround it for medicines.  

The advertising of prescription-only medicines in the UK is banned under UK advertising law and so clinics should now urgently review their websites and social media before the August 29 deadline to ensure that they are not advertising the prescription-only medicine Kenalog, to avoid further enforcement action.

We would urge anyone who sees a clinic advertising it, to report them to either ourselves or the Advertising Standards Authority, and to always consult a qualified healthcare professional to fully discuss options for hayfever treatment.”

If you would like advice about a specific ad, CAP has a range of services to help you stick to the rules, including free bespoke Copy Advice. Please visit our website for more details.

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