Pharma Advertising on Social Media: In Need of a Regulatory Update

April 17, 2019

It is undeniable that the internet has changed the world. It is also undeniable how little laws have changed to accommodate the internet and the new reality that emerged from its foundation. It is safe to say that the rules governing the advertising of medicinal products have not been updated to compensate for the effects that the internet has had in Portugal, but across Europe as well.

The advertising activities of medicinal products on the internet must comply with the rules governing the ”traditional” advertising of medicinal products. It seemed relatively easy with company websites: restricted access to healthcare professionals for information on medicinal products subject to medical prescription. However, it was only after a judicial decision that pharma companies were allowed to publish the summary of a product’s characteristics and information on the products marketed by that company on their institutional websites; even for products subject to medical prescription.

However, today’s internet is so much more than a company’s website. There are e-mails, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and people are communicating and more through these channels. Many companies use these social networks and online platforms to promote their products and services. Most of the messages published on social networks are addressed to the general public and therefore the general rule on advertising to the general public should apply: no advertising of medicinal products subject to medical prescription to the public and the advertising shall be set in such a way that it is clear that the message is advertising.

Considering the application of these rules, a payment to an Instagrammer for them to use a non-prescription medicinal product in a post should be duly disclosed by the Instagrammer. Although from a legal perspective the application of this rule is quite simple, it will prevent the effects of this type of promotion.


Continuar a ler o artigo de Joana Silveira Botelho no site da Pharma Boardroom.

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