OTC regulatory body reviews ad regulations

The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB), the trade body for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and food supplements, is set to revise its advertising code. The move is thought to have been prompted by the growing number of medicines switching from being prescription-only medicines (POM) to OTC.

Levonelle, Schering Health Care’s morning-after pill which recently switched from POM to OTC, launched its first UK consumer ad campaign this year. The pill has been advertised in women’s glossies including Cosmopolitan and Glamour (MW January 24).

The current advertising code regulates the use of celebrities’ endorsement for OTCs and the use of medical jargon in advertising. It is unknown whether these issues are under review or likely to be changed.

A spokesman for PAGB says: “The review has been triggered by the industry because of an increasing number of new products being launched OTC. But, as part of the review, only minor changes will be made to the advertising code.”

The issue of revising the advertising code has also been highlighted by a recent industry complaint against a GlaxoSmithKline ad for NiQuitin CQ. Rival company Pharmacia complained to PAGB about a NiQuitin CQ ad which claimed “success rates with good compliance can be over five times greater than with placebo”. The complaint was upheld by PAGB, which ruled that the claim was invalid.

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