Email & Password
Not a member? Register.
Here’s a funny thing. Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals are intentionally restricting the information that consumers see online. I doubt that the majority of people searching for information about aesthetics, wellness and health are even aware of this fact.
It all stems from the Medicines Act 1968 and the subsequent amends in the Human Medicines Regulations in 2012. This prohibits anyone in the UK from advertising a prescription-only product to the general public. The Regulation actually states:
‘A person may not publish an advertisement that is likely to lead to the use of a prescription only medicine’.
If you’ve been to the United States, you will probably have seen advertisements for prescription products – from the airport billboards through TV and social media. That’s because the rules of engagement are different on the other side of the pond. They can do it.
In contrast, here in the UK two of the groups that arguably know the most about medicines (the healthcare professionals and the manufacturers) are extremely restricted in what they can share with the general public when it comes to medicines. Despite having access to tons of information, they are unable to ‘advertise’ to the public, and this also hamstrings information sharing too.
Regrettably, it feels like the interpretation of ‘advertising’ has grown to include sharing just about anything to do with a prescription-only product with the general public.
This includes people who are actively looking for information about their health. Some of the bigger pharmaceutical companies are not even listing their prescription-only products by name on their UK affiliate websites anymore. It’s hard to see how a list of products could lead to the use of that product. This seems to be well away from the idea of ‘advertising’ and sadly consumer education will be all the poorer for it.
This leads to several challenges.
As we think about the dynamic and ever-expanding sector of health and wellness, we can bucket in several health states where a combination of prescription solutions and non-prescription options are the norm. Think Menopause, Weight Management and Facial Aesthetics.
For consumers interested in finding out more about each of these, there is a plethora of products to consider (HRT versus bioidentical hormones versus vitamins; fat-busting tabs and jabs versus medical devices versus fad diets etc; botulinum toxins versus medical devices versus laser/light etc).
However, it’s easy for consumers to get a skewed view of treatment options from online searches. For example, just under 50% of facial aesthetics treatments in the UK include a botulinum toxin, yet you wouldn’t think that after a cursory search online, as only the medical devices and light / laser equipment can be advertised.
That means people may be put off because they don’t want fillers, or have a wrong view on what the different treatments can do.
To get ready to navigate the private, cash pay system, the consumer needs to know about the options in order to be informed, and then ask questions before the point of purchase. Informed consent only works when you have time to consider and weigh up all the options.
Yet as we’ve already seen, the information available online, especially from companies and increasing the healthcare professionals, is intentionally very limited in detail and scope. This can easily lead to confusion as often the only easy-to-find information about medicine is the Patient Information or the Summary of Product Characteristics (the SPC) from the Electronic Medicines Compendium (both of which can be terrifying reads) or stuff that comes from non-healthcare professional sources.
Ultimately these are my messages:
Digital everywhere with online healthcare provision around the corner would not have been in the minds of the people who penned original views. With our modern use of online search and the relentless megatrend of pushing more healthcare service provision online, I wonder if the ban on advertising medicines is fit for the future?
If you want to read more, the experts at Consulting Room really know what they're talking about and have put together some weight management, bioidentical hormones, fat, botulinum toxin, laser/light and dermal filler treatment FAQs just for you.
If you have more questions, you can use the weight management, bioidentical hormones, fat, botulinum toxin, laser/light and dermal filler treatment questions feature to talk to our panel of trained medical experts.
If you're keen to get started with any of these treatments right away then you're in luck - those clever folks also have a list of trusted, accredited weight management, bioidentical hormones, fat, botulinum toxin, laser/light and dermal filler clinics in your area.
Many thanks to the author of this blog Janet Kettels who founded kettelsconsulting.com. Janet is an award-winning communicator with plenty of experience in PR, issues and transformation. Her focus is on wellness, beauty and healthcare, and delivered programs that inform, engage and change the views of stakeholders. She runs a consultancy specialising in leadership, strategic planning, reputation building and communications. Via Kettels Consulting, she provides boutique business consulting service for healthcare and wellness companies, from start-up to large organisations.
Here is everything you need to know about Dermal Fillers and Botox...
Dark under-eye circles can stem from a combination of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, ageing, and skin tone. How can we get rid of them?
Dermal fillers have gained popularity, partly influenced by reality TV shows and social media; However medical experts caution they can cause an immune reaction...
Before you go.....
Let's stay in touch, pop your details here and we'll send our editor's hand-picked updates on your fave subjects.