Taking swift action to tackle a drip feed of misleading ad claims

Today we've banned advertising claims on websites and in social media by three clinics offering intravenous (IV) drip treatments which made medicinal claims that implied they could prevent or treat COVID-19.

These investigations were fast-tracked as part of our focus on prioritising and tackling ads that exploit the public’s health related anxieties surrounding the current crisis. 

Various claims made by the advertisers, including: “Help protect and prevent against the new strand of virus (known as the Coronavirus)”; “protect yourself from infection”; and, “a good way to boost your immune system and protect yourself from viral infections”, were all a problem under our rules.

In each of the cases we investigated, the IV drips offered by the advertisers were not licensed as a medicinal product by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Because of that, no medicinal or medical claims could be made for them. In one case the IV drip contained medicinal products but the medicinal claims did not conform to the marketing authorisation for the products. Any mention of coronavirus/COVID-19 in the promotion of an IV drip product would bring the product under medicines regulations, as would any claim that implied treatment of, or protection from, the virus.

As follow-up, our Compliance team is working with the MHRA to target other businesses who have recently advertised IV drips to consumers. Next week they will issue an Enforcement Notice instructing other businesses offering IV drip treatments to take immediate action to review their ad claims, including on their websites and social media pages, and remove any references that make direct or implied references to treat or prevent Coronavirus/COVID-19.

We encourage anyone who has seen similar claims or who has concerns about any other covid-19 related ads to get in touch. Our new quick and easy reporting form helps us to work quickly and efficiently to contact businesses, ensuring ads which break the rules are swiftly removed.

More on

  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Subscribe now.