The TGA has published advice on the new advertising code, as well as launching a simplified process for consumers to complain about ads
The Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2018 came into being on 29 June 2018, and takes effect from 1 January 2019, at which point the 2015 Code will be repealed (though it will be relevant in some situations).
“Delaying the date for when the 2018 Code takes effect allows advertisers time to familiarise themselves with it and to bring existing advertising material into compliance,” the TGA advised.
“The delay will also allow advertisers to undertake the training and education offered by the TGA.”
The 2015 Code has been amended, with the only change being to the Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only) medicines statement. This provides advertisers with the choice of using either the statement, “Your pharmacist’s advice is required;” or “Ask your pharmacist – they must decide if this product is right for you” when advertising medicines that are included in Schedule 3 of the Poisons Standard.
However only the latter statement will be acceptable once the 2018 code comes into effect on 1 January 2019.
Ads for medicines which appear in specified media will continue to require pre-approval until 1 July 2020.
“Advertisers are expected to comply with the Code in force at the time,” says the TGA.
“Advertisers should use the six months between 1 July 2018 and 1 January 2019 to review their current and planned advertising, and ensure that any advertising after 1 January 2019 will be compliant with the 2018 Code (with the exception of advertisements pre-approved under the 2015 Code until the date of expiry of the approval).”
The TGA also announced the launch of a new single online form where consumers can report “dodgy ads”.
The TGA created a web hub which brings together news and information about the regulation of advertising of therapeutic goods, which includes tools for consumers and advertisers.
“The new complaint form makes it easy for anyone to lodge complaints about advertisements for therapeutic goods,” it says.
“The TGA is now the sole body for handling complaints about medicine and medical device advertisements aimed at the public, with new sanctions and penalties for advertisers who do not comply with regulations.
“Consumers can use the hub to educate themselves on the rules that protect them against unfair or misleading ads for therapeutic goods. Fact sheets such as ‘The top 10 things to look out for in medicine advertisements’ explain the controls in place to protect the health and safety of consumers.
“Advertisers can learn how to meet the requirements of a compliant advertisement through e-learning modules on the hub.
“The first module on the basics of therapeutic goods advertising regulation is now available, with future modules planned for the coming months. Advertisers can also check whether a particular therapeutic good can be advertised to the public by using a simple online decision tool.”