A magazine ad, for free pain assessments at Lloyds Pharmacy, was headed "Q 'I have tried everything for my pain! Can you help?' Clare Kerr, Pharmacist and Pain Expert from Lloydspharmacy offers advice ...". Further text stated "A Pop in and ask about Lloydspharmacy's FREE Pain Assessment Service. We take time to listen and suggest what's best for you - from reviewing your medicines to making changes to your lifestyle. There may be something you haven't tried ... that works for you. Q 'I am in constant pain with my back, what should I do?' A We could review your medication, suggest drug free forms of pain relief, but call in for a FREE Pain Assessment and we can tailor our advice to you - everyone is different when it comes to pain. Q 'My arthritis is so painful, it's stopping me doing everyday things like opening tins and jars! And getting a good night's sleep is impossible! What do you suggest?' A Talk to our team ... they may show you our Betterlife range, which includes items such as gripping and turning aids. There are larger items too such as orthopaedic mattresses and toppers. Pick up a FREE catalogue when you come in for your FREE Pain Assessment". A text box featured text, which stated "FREE Pain Assessment Service instore now Who is it for? Anyone living with pain, such as back, joint and arthritic pain. What does it involve? Talking one-to-one with a member of our healthcare team. What happens? We listen and give you personalised advice and ongoing support. What does it cost? Nothing! And no appointment is needed. Call in today".
The complainant challenged whether the ad breached the Code, because it discouraged essential medical treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
Lloyds Pharmacy (Lloyds) said the ad invited readers in-store for a pain assessment. They explained that a pain assessment involved either a Healthcare Assistant, under instruction from the pharmacist, discussing over the counter medication the patient may need or already be taking, or a pharmacist discussing existing medication taken by the patient and providing a Medicines Use Review (MUR), if relevant. During an MUR, the pharmacist assessed the patient's use of their medication to identify and address any problems they may be experiencing. They said, where necessary, the pharmacist would refer patients to other health or social-care professionals.
Lloyds believed pharmacists were suitably qualified healthcare professionals who could advise on the medical conditions referred to in the ad. On that basis, they believed they were entitled to advertise healthcare services for the medical conditions referred to in the ad. They said pharmacists were required to complete a degree, which had been approved by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. On completion of their degree, pharmacists were required to complete 52 weeks of satisfactory supervised and assessed training in employment, before passing the registration examination for admission to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register as a pharmacist. They said the GPhC had a statutory duty to ensure that pharmacy professionals practiced safely and effectively and could take action if pharmacists failed to satisfy expected standards. They said the GPhC required pharmacy professionals to engage in continued professional development to ensure their knowledge and skills were up to date. They also said their pharmacists were covered by professional indemnity insurance.
The ASA noted the ad referred to chronic pain and arthritis, which we considered were conditions for which suitably qualified medical advice should be sought. We acknowledged that pain assessments would be conducted either by a Healthcare Assistant, under instruction from a pharmacist, or directly from a pharmacist themselves.
We understood that pharmacists were required to complete a degree, which had been approved by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society before completing 52 weeks of satisfactory supervised and assessed training in employment and then passing the registration examination for admission to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register as a pharmacist.
Pharmacy professionals were bound by the GPhC’s Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance to practise only in areas in which they were competent to do so and were bound to refer a patient to other health or social-care professionals, where necessary. The GPhC also required pharmacy professionals to engage in continued professional development and had a statutory duty to ensure that pharmacy professionals practised safely and effectively and could take action if pharmacists failed to satisfy expected standards. We also understood that Lloyds’ pharmacists were covered by professional indemnity insurance. We considered pharmacists were suitably qualified to advise on the medical conditions referred to in the ad.
Because pharmacists were suitably qualified to advise on the medical conditions referred to in the ad and Healthcare Assistants were under their instruction, and because pharmacists were bound by the GPhC’s Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance to refer a patient to other health or social-care professionals, where necessary, we concluded the ad did not discourage essential medical treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
On that basis, we concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered (see rule 12.11).
Health professionals will be deemed suitably qualified only if they can provide suitable credentials, for example, evidence of: relevant professional expertise or qualifications; systems for regular review of members' skills and competencies and suitable professional indemnity insurance covering all services provided; accreditation by a professional or regulatory body that has systems for dealing with complaints and taking disciplinary action and has registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.