Consumer Advertising Guidelines for Marketed Health Products from 2006 Receives Update!

October 28, 2016 By


Advertising Standards Canada prepares revised guideline for claims that can be made on marketed health products with new guidance for medical devices and vaccines.

On September 23, 2016 the Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), a non-profit industry group that provides guidance to industry and Health Canada on acceptable marketing claims has provided an update to the 2006 Consumer Advertising Guidelines for Marketed Health Products (for Non-prescription Drugs including Natural Health Products). While the current 2006 guidance is a very useful document, the new draft document expands on the product categories for which the ASC provides advertising guidance to now include medical devices and vaccines, a welcome addition.

The draft guide at a mere 33 pages is considerably shorter than the 2006 version, but is no less useful, linking to additional guidance’s that may be of help. The new format provides many clear examples of acceptable and unacceptable advertising claims for drugs, natural health products (NHPs), medical devices and vaccines. Additionally, it provides new guidance in the following areas:

  • Mechanism of Action – These claims are permitted, proved they are consistent with the product’s market authorization.
  • Composition: Ingredients / Content – This section is most interesting as it provides guidance regarding claims that have not been clarified previously. Specifically;
      • Sweeting Agents – ‘Sugar free’ claims are permitted, provided the product contains no ingredient considered to by sugar or sugar alcohols
      • Allergen Labelling – Previously no guidance has been provided regarding allergen labelling for the product types covered in this guide. Moreover, as the NNHPD has consistently advised that they do not regulate allergen labelling. As such it is interesting to see clarification given to ‘allergen free’ claims. As per the draft guide, an ‘allergen free’ claim should not be made, but should be qualified to indicate that the product is ‘priority allergen free’, based on Health Canada’s identified priority allergens
      • Salt and Sodium – Indicates that a product without sodium chloride would be permitted to make a ‘salt free’ claim. While a product without sodium can indicate it is ‘sodium free’. Additionally a product with 25 mg or less of sodium per day is now being permitted to make a ‘low sodium’ claim
  • Government/Health Canada Approval – The existing guide limits claims to depicting the products DIN, DIN-HM or NPN on the label or advertisements. The newer draft guide allows the claim “Product X is authorized for sale by Health Canada”, a nice update to this section, which is also permitted for Class II, III and IV medical devices. Class I medical devices are excluded as they are neither reviewed nor approved by Health Canada.

The current 2016 draft Consumer Advertising for Marketed Health Products is presently under consultation, but is an appreciated guidance from the ASC. The additional guidance given will help companies making drugs, natural health products, medical devices and vaccines ensure that their products marketing claims are compliant. Moreover, the new examples in the guide are a great help. While this guide appears to be quite useful, it is still recommended to provide feedback to the ASC regarding this consultation which ends on November 22, 2016 to have your voice heard even, if it is just to comment on the usefulness of the guide.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.