Advertise veterinary medicines legally
How pharmacists, manufacturers of veterinary medicines and other professionals can advertise veterinary medicines (formerly VMGN 4).
The Veterinary Medicines Regulations sets out the restrictions and who may advertise veterinary medicines.
If you’re concerned about an advert you’ve seen for a veterinary medicinal product, report it to the VMD firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advertising is any activity that is aimed or designed to promote the sale, supply or use of a veterinary medicine, including electronic advertising (eg, website banners, emails), but not including price lists.
These activities are considered advertising whether for profit or not.
Some examples of types of promotional adverts are:
- mail shot emails to customers
- postal flyers
- website banners or pop ups
- sponsored banners on internet search engines
- text providing information about animal illnesses that specifically promotes the use of a particular veterinary medicine
Veterinary prescription products can feature in sponsored/paid for adverts on internet search engines. These searches are carried out by people who have been issued with a prescription for the product by a veterinary surgeon, which results in a list of retailers who can supply that product.
This guidance refers to these distribution categories:
Prescription Only Medicine – Veterinarian (POM-V)
Prescription Only Medicine – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP (POM-VPS)
Non-Food Animal – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP (NFA-VPS)
Authorised Veterinary Medicine – General Sales List (AVM-GSL)
You must not advertise:
products available on prescription to the general public
products that aren’t authorised for use in the UK
products in a way that they haven’t been authorised for, eg not in line with the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC), or in a way that is misleading
any unauthorised veterinary medicine, including products that have an import certificate
Restrictions on POM-V
You can only advertise products classed as POM-V in publications aimed at the following:
professional keepers of animals – this excludes antimicrobial medicines which are prohibited from being advertised to professional keepers of animals, eg farmers
Restrictions on POM-VPS
You can only advertise products classed as POM-VPS in publications aimed at the following:
suitably qualified persons
other veterinary health care professionals
professional keepers of animals
Products with no restrictions on the audience
There are no restrictions on the advertising of NFA-VPS and AVM-GSL so long as the:
information in the advert isn’t misleading
claims are taken from the products’ SPCs
There are no restrictions on the advertising of products that come under the exemptions for small pet animals.
Educational information aimed at giving a balanced overview of a disease and all available treatments may be made available to the general public as long as products or brand names are not mentioned and all other advertising restrictions are met.
Price lists aren’t advertising material as long as all products are listed with equal prominence.
You must do all of the following to avoid your price list being classed as an advert:
include a list of all products in a particular category
use the same size text and images for all products
use consistent font size, colour and formatting
only use images that show the product with UK authorised packaging
the name of the product should be its full authorised name
You should also make sure the name of each product, its image and a description is in line with the product’s SPC.
Selection of medicines for promotion
You must choose medicines for promotion based on their medical suitability rather than for any financial gain.
You should not allow promotions like discounts or buy one get one free that try to influence the person who prescribes the medicines.
Support advertising claims
As the marketing authorisation holder you must make sure that any advertising claims you make are supported by information in the product’s SPC.
All antibiotic products authorised in the UK are POM-V. Promotion of antibiotics should not encourage unnecessary use of these medicines and all advertising material should contain a strap line indicating that the prescription and use of the product should be in accordance with the responsible use of antibiotics.
Use antibiotics responsibly
Accurate prescribing and administration helps to reduce resistance
NOAH has also published additional guidance.
Wholesale Dealer authorisation holders
Wholesale dealers may send a price list of authorised human medicinal products to a vet for use under the cascade only when requested. The list must clearly state that the products do not have a Marketing Authorisation for veterinary use.
Specials Manufacturing Authorisation (ManSa) holders may advertise the services they provide but not the specific substances that can be manufactured.
They may provide information on the different types of dosage forms that are available.
On a vet’s request, the ManSa holder may provide a list of active substances, formulations with prices and placebo samples.