Claims on skinboost.co.uk, for a cosmetic skincare practitioner, viewed on 19 October 2011, was headed "Skinboost Prescriptive Injectables and Evidence Based Skin Care". Text on the Line Relaxing Treatment (Botox®) page stated "The cosmetic use of line relaxing injections has rapidly become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures worldwide because of its affordability, simplicity and efficacy ... Tiny injections are placed in specific areas of the skin which relax the muscle, that causes the lines/wrinkles ... Be assured at Skinboost that Caroline is a Nurse Prescriber, who will prescribe and administer your treatment safely and your welfare will always be put first. An aftercare session is booked during your treatment (2 weeks) so that Caroline can obtain optimum results, if any additional botox is required there is no extra charge for this". The page contained a link to the BOTOX ® Cosmetic website and included several 'before and after' photos. Text on Botox ® for Excessive Underarm Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) page stated "Botox is proven to be a useful treatment for the relief of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis in patients unable to obtain relief using antiperspirants. Primary Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating which is not caused by a medical condition ... Using tiny injections of botulinum toxin to alleviate the symptoms of hyperhidrosis is a promising approach. Research has shown that treating the armpits, with botulinum toxin is safe and effective ... Botox injections do not cure hyperhidrosis; your symptoms will return gradually. Follow-up injections are required to maintain dryness. These repeat injections may be necessary at intervals varying from 3 to 12 months." The website also included a "Price List" for the treatments offered.
The complainant challenged whether the website was in breach of the Code because it advertised a prescription-only medicine (POM).
Skinboost said they were happy to take advice on how to amend the website.
The ASA noted that Skinboost offered several Botox treatments. We noted the home page of the website included the logos for "Botox Cosmetic" and "Azzalure Botulinum Toxin Type A" and that two testimonials made reference to Botox. We also noted claims on subsequent pages of the website included references to the benefits of Botox, such as "Tiny injections are placed in specific areas of the skin which relax the muscle, that causes the lines/wrinkles", "Botox is proven to be a useful treatment for the relief of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis in patients unable to obtain relief using antiperspirants" and "Using tiny injections of botulinum toxin to alleviate the symptoms of hyperhidrosis is a promising approach". We also noted the 'before and after' photos illustrating the claimed benefits of Botox. We considered that it was acceptable for a website to make limited references to a POM. However, we considered that the references to Botox and its effects went beyond the balanced and factual presentation of a POM as a treatment option, in the context of the promotion of a consultation where a range of therapeutic options would be discussed.
We considered that a factual list of prices was acceptable under the Code, provided the list did not include product claims or actively encourage viewers to choose a product based on the price. However, we noted the price list appeared beneath the heading "Prescriptive Injectables and Evidence Based Skin Care" and that the website made reference to "Line Relaxing Treatment (Botox)". In conjunction with the other references to Botox and its effects, we considered that consumers would understand reference to 'Line Relaxing' treatment in the price list was a reference to Botox. We therefore considered the reference to 'Line Relaxing' treatment within the price list promoted a POM and was therefore in breach of the Code.
Because the ad promoted the use of a POM to the public, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.12 12.12 Prescription-only medicines or prescription-only medical treatments may not be advertised to the public. (Medicines).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Skinboost to ensure they did not advertise POMs to the public in future.