Buying group slated over drug ads

A Pharmacy Guild complaint against an advertisement by an online buying group has been upheld by regulators.

The TGAs Complaints Resolution Panel has found that international buying group Groupon was in breach of Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code in its ads for Nurofen Zavance tablets.

Among a series of alleged breaches were “wording under the heading ‘In a Nutshell’, particularly suggesting that Nurofen Zavance can “get rid of pesky pain problems” is likely to elicit unrealistic expectations in the reasonable consumer regarding the effectiveness of this product in relieving pain…..” and the advertisement failing to include the terms ‘Use only as directed’ and ‘If symptoms persist see your doctor/healthcare professional’.

The complaint by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia alleged that “a number of factors in the advertisement are likely to encourage inappropriate or excessive use of the advertised product”, as it was promoting the product in 72 and 144 units.

“We are concerned the advertisement is selling this product in quantities equivalent to a scheduled supply without any health professional oversight, nor providing any advice or opportunity to speak with a health professional.

The complaint did not relate to any wrongdoing on the part of manufacturer RB, who said: “RB is not responsible for the Groupon Advertisement. The Groupon Advertisement was not produced or commissioned by RB. It was also not submitted to RB for review or approval. It was, and is, wholly the responsibility of Groupon”.

According to the hearing transcript, Groupon Australia responded only by acknowledgement of receipt of the emailed letter from the Panel, in which a response to the complaint was sought, via an automated message: “Thank you for your email. A member of Groupon’s Customer Care team will be in contact with you very shortly.”

An explanation on tracking orders and seeing the latest updates followed. No substantive response to the complaint was made, the TGA said.

Groupon, launched in 2008, describes itself as a “global e-commerce marketplace connecting millions of subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services in more than 28 countries”.

The panel ordered that the advertisement be withdrawn from further publication, and Groupon were required to give a written undertaking not to use the representations in any other advertisement

They were also required to print a retraction on their website in accordance with set conditions, and to provide evidence of compliance within 14 days of being notified of the request.

Click here to see the panel ruling in full.

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