Social media influencers banned from promoting health and skin products in latest TGA crackdown

New advertising rules for social media influencers will prohibit them from promoting health products, such as vitamins or skin care, with the promise that they will “diagnose, treat or cure” any health or skin condition.

Therapeutic Goods Administration’s new advertising rules (TGA) aim to align influencers with best practices, with influencers being prohibited from promoting any therapeutic good for which they have been paid.

As the TGA states, a therapeutic good ranges from drugs to medical devices. By their broad definition, this can include sunscreen, skincare, vitamins, protein powders, collagen powders, and other supplements.

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Influencer Tasha Franken endorses JS Health vitamins. (Instagram / @jshealthvitamines)

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The administration points out that products with claims such as “‘eliminates toxins‘, ‘reduces age spots‘, ‘relieves pain‘, ‘promotes sugar metabolism‘, ‘reduces inflammation in the body‘ are all therapeutic use claims.”

For many Australian influencers, these new decisions will have a major impact on their business and how they approach their social media posting, given that most profit from paid partnerships with beauty and wellness brands.

The TGA has provided basic advertising guidelines for influencers to follow, including:

  • “Be precise, balanced and supported
  • Only make claims that are consistent with the indication or intended use of the advertised good as registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) or for exempted products not listed on the ARTG in accordance with the documentation provided with the product.
  • Contain certain mandatory warnings, which vary depending on the type of therapeutic good being advertised
  • Do not claim that a product can diagnose, treat or cure a serious disease without the prior authorization or approval of the TGA.”

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The TGA explains that the rules apply whether or not a payment is disclosed, and even if a testimonial made by the influencer is genuine, reports The Australian.

The prohibitions also extend to those who have expertise in a health-related fieldincluding current and former health practitioners, medical professionals and medical researchers.

For example, experts and brand ambassadors will be able to endorse products, but cannot provide testimonials on how the products work, due to their conflict of interest.

According to The Australianthe rules also prohibit therapeutics advertising that plays on “fear and apprehension” or that may cause distress to public viewers.

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