This ruling forms part of a wider piece of work on sclerotherapy treatments, identified for investigation following intelligence gathered by the ASA. See also related rulings published on 26 April 2023.
A post on the Facebook page for the beauty salon Venus Beauty & Aesthetics, posted on 5 November 2022, advertising sclerotherapy, a procedure for the treatment of thread veins. Text stated “Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for improving the appearance of varicose and spider veins on the legs. It is also performed to treat symptoms caused by these conditions, such as aching, swelling and burning. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical solution directly into the varicose or spider vein. The solution causes the vein walls to swell, stick together and seal shut, stopping the flow of blood. As a result, the vein fades within a few weeks.” Four accompanying photos showed examples of thread veins on people’s bodies.
The ASA challenged whether the ad breached the Code because it advertised a prescription-only medicine to the public.
Venus Beauty & Aesthetics said they were aware that the promotion of prescription-only medicines to the public was not allowed. They said they had mistakenly assumed that since they had only advertised the procedure, and not the actual POM involved in the process, that the ad would be allowed. They apologised for their mistake, and said that they had removed the ad.
The CAP Code stated that prescription-only medicines or prescription-only medical treatments may not be advertised to the public.
The ASA understood that sclerotherapy treatments required the use of a prescription-only medicine. We noted that the ad was visible to anyone visiting Venus Beauty & Aesthetics’ Facebook page. The ad stated that sclerotherapy was the most common treatment for improving the appearance of varicose and spider veins on the legs, and was used treat other symptoms of the condition. We therefore considered that the ad promoted a prescription-only medicine to the general public.
Whilst we welcomed Venus Beauty & Aesthetics’ willingness to remove the posts, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.12 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Venus Beauty & Aesthetics not to promote prescription-only medicines to the general public in future marketing materials.