Vetting claims about products for animal health

There are a variety of products on the market aimed at keeping our animal friends in the best of health – including medicines, medical devices and food supplements. Just as with health products for humans, advertisers should make sure they are marketing their products within the correct legal framework, and hold evidence to support their efficacy claims.

Read on for our top tips to help you ensure your marketing is purr-fectly in line with the rules.

Don’t make medicinal claims for unlicensed products

Veterinary medicines must be licensed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and any claims made for licensed veterinary medicines must conform to the claims in the product’s summary of product characteristics (rule 12.11).

If your product is not a licensed medicinal product, you should take care not to present it as one in your marketing. Any claim (stated or implied) that a product is effective in treating an adverse condition in animals, for example a claim about behaviour improvement in horses that refers to a nutrient deficiency, is likely to be seen as medicinal. Medicinal claims made for an unlicensed product break the rules, regardless of any evidence you may hold.

Make sure you hold evidence for your claims

Although claims to treat adverse conditions must only be made for licensed medicines, under rule 12.1, advertisers may make claims about the health benefits of their products, for example that a supplement improves equine joint health or a product repels fleas, ticks and other external parasites, provided that they hold robust clinical evidence to support them. 

Be careful with comparative claims

Comparisons with competitors must not mislead the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products and you need to hold evidence that specifically supports the comparison.

Also, in order to verify a claim, consumers should be given sufficient information to allow them to understand the basis of the comparison, or directed to further information that will allow them to do so.

If you need further, bespoke advice on any of your own non-broadcast ads our Copy Advice team are happy to help.

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