Lloyds Pharmacy investigated for breaching advertising regulations

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have begun an investigation into Lloyds Pharmacy over suspicions they have been advertising prescription-only medicines.

The advertising in question that raised the concerns was a newspaper advert for a male impotence service offered by Lloyds Pharmacy. The ad was labelled “lost the perk-in your gherkin”, depicting an image of a drooping skyscraper, which left little to the imagination as to what the picture was meant to be.

Accompanying this was an offer for an erectile dysfunction pill that could be purchased online for £6, suggesting this was a low price to patients.

According to section 12.12 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, prescription-only medicines and prescription-only medical treatments are forbidden from being advertised to the public.

The advert, currently being assessed by ASA’s Compliance team, was featured last month in London’s Evening Standard.

Pharmacist Cathryn Brown, spotted the advertisement and perhaps justifiably deemed it to be “essentially an advert for a prescription-only medicine”.

Speaking about her reasons for bringing the ad to the attention of the ASA, Ms Brown said: “It’s a valuable thing to highlight awareness that there are treatments available for erectile dysfunction and you don’t have to go to your GP. But advertising it on the basis of price per tablet doesn’t imply a professional service.”

What Ms Brown didn’t highlight is the fact the offer in the advertisement is perhaps not as impressive as first seems. When you take into account with Medical Specialists Pharmacy you can obtain Cialis Daily tablets (boxed in 28s) from as little as £2.92 each, or Sildenafil tablets from as little as £4.12 each (both obtainable following a doctor’s consultation and approval), maybe £6 per pill isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The ASA replied to Ms Brown via an email last month, conceding the pharmacist had made a “valid point”, adding there was a “clear issue” with the fact the advert had broken advertising regulations. The ASA said in the email that the case is now in the hands of their advertising practice compliance team.

“The team will work to address the problem and ensure these ads, where they appear to advertise prescription-only medicines rather than the service generally, no longer appear,” the ASA said.

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