0370 270 6000

Superdrug warned: don't advertise prescription-only medicines

12 February 2015

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published an upheld complaint against Superdrug Stores plc, reminding them that their future advertising should not directly or indirectly promote prescription-only medicines (POM).

In this instance, the wording of the ad ("Up To 76 Cheaper Than Competitors") focussed on the purchase of a POM rather than a wider focus on the promotion of a consultation to discuss a range of therapeutic options.

The complaint in question was made by Pharmacy2U in relation to Superdrugs sponsored search advertising on Google for erectile dysfunction, for which the only treatment that could be bought through Superdrugs online service at that time was the purchase of a POM.

Under section 284 of The Human Medicines Regulations 2012, advertisers cannot publish advertisements for POM; this is brought directly within the Code of Advertising Practice by Rule 12.12 which makes it clear that advertisers should also not publish advertisements that are likely to lead to the use of a POM.

Alex Watt, commercial partner at law firm Browne Jacobson who specialises in advertising law, said:

"Whilst Superdrug did offer advice on lifestyle changes that may assist sufferers by referring to the price of the POM, this meant that the POM became the focus of the advertisement. The ASA emphasised in this ruling that an advertisement only has to be likely to promote a POM, directly or indirectly, to fall foul of the Code.

"Online pharmacy companies should therefore take extra care when dealing with advertising that could potentially relate to POM as a potential treatment option."

Focus on...

Legal updates

Amazon not liable for merely storing third party’s infringing goods

At a time when Amazon is fielding large spikes in demand amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the online retail platform will welcome the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) received on 2 April 2020.


Future of brands - hear what our experts and guests had to say

Hear from commercial IP lawyer Alex Watt and guests from Aston Martin Lagonda, Barker Brettell and Dummett Copp, for an insight into the 10th anniversary of our brands, advertising and marketing event.


Future of retail - hear from James Reid, EMEA IT Director at Deckers Brands

James Reid of Deckers Brands joins a panel of experts to give a retail perspective on the usage of data, looking particularly at how retailers should keep their data current and relevant in order to enhance the experiences of tomorrow.


Future of retail - hear from Dan Klein, Valtech’s Chief Data Officer

Dan Klein of Valtech joins a panel of experts to explore how retailers are using data to deliver a personalised customer experience that has anonymity.


Lakhbir Rakar

Lakhbir Rakar

PR Manager