warned over advertising prescription-only medicines to public


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The Independent Online

A parenting website has been warned about advertising prescription-only medicines to the public just months after it was ordered to remove discredited claims that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered, which offers parents advice on childhood immunisation, to remove claims that the vaccine "could be causing autism in up to 10% of autistic children in the UK" in August.

But it received a second round of complaints challenging whether "various claims and references" on the site could be substantiated, suggesting that the ASA's original directions had not been followed.

The ASA also investigated a section on the site stating: "We do not offer the MMR vaccine at BabyJabs. We are concerned that the safety of the vaccine has not been adequately demonstrated, and believe that the single vaccines are suitable alternatives that are equally - possibly more - effective and are probably safer" out of concern that it was advertising prescription-only medicines in breach of the advertising code.

BabyJabs said it would remove material relating to the MMR vaccine as well as the brand names of the vaccines.

The ASA said it was concerned that Babyjabs had continued to make similar claims "despite their assurance that they would not do so again".

It added that the code prohibited the advertising of prescription-only medicines to the public and consulted the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which said the campaign had not been approved by ministers.

The ASA said: "Although we noted the advertiser was willing to remove the brand names from their website, we reminded them that this approach would not satisfy the requirements of the code.

"Because the claims were directly connected with the supply of goods and services and as the website advertised prescription-only medicines, we concluded the ad breached the code."

It ruled: "The ad must not appear in its current form. We told BabyJabs to ensure they did not advertise prescription-only medicines to the public without the necessary approval."