Pharmacy Board reminds pharmacists of their obligations when advertising health services, and warns about steep penalties for breaches—up to $10,000 per offence
To protect consumers, the National Law has provisions for advertising regulated health services, reminds the Pharmacy Board.
The Board warns pharmacists and pharmacies that advertising for regulated health services must not be false, misleading or deceptive, or likely to be misleading or deceptive.
Advertisements must not offer a gift, discount or other inducement, unless the terms and conditions of the offer are also stated, or use testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business.
Nor should they create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, warns the Pharmacy Board.
Advertisements also must not directly or indirectly encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
These rules apply to all forms of advertising to promote health services, including all forms of printed and electronic media.
“Responsible advertising is a professional and legal obligation,” says the Board.
“Check all your advertising against the requirements of the National Law and identify any content or claims that do not meet these requirements.
“Supporting the public to make informed healthcare choices with the right information at the right time is extremely important and advertising can heavily influence a patient’s decision-making around their healthcare needs,” it says.
“Advertising by healthcare providers and individual health practitioners has increased steadily in recent years, so it’s more important to provide information to help consumers assess the quality of advertising.
“Information in advertising should be accurate and based on acceptable evidence, however this is not always the case and some advertising practices may mislead patients about the potential benefits of certain health services.”
A registered pharmacist, or a pharmacy providing a regulated health service, whose advertising breaches the National Law, may be prosecuted and ordered by a court to pay a $5,000 penalty per offence for an individual, or a $10,000 penalty per offence for a body corporate.
When a pharmacist has breached the advertising requirements, the Pharmacy Board may also decide that this raises concern about the practitioner’s conduct.
Action under the National Law can include placing restrictions on an individual health practitioner’s registration which may affect their ability to practise the profession.
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