The advertising and promotion of medicines

If you are a company or an individual wishing to embark on advertising and promotion of medicines, you need to ensure you know the rules of the road before you embark on this as there are many important factors to consider.

On face value it is simple to assume that promotion is a glossy ad in a publication extolling the merits and benefits of your medicine. It is one approach, but the definition is far wider. In the context here, advertising and promotion of medicines can be defined as:

‘Promotion’ means any activity undertaken by a pharmaceutical company or with its authority which promotes the administration, consumption, prescription, purchase, recommendation, sale, supply or use of its medicines.

It includes:

  • journal and direct mail advertising

  • the activities of representatives, including any electronic or printed material used by them

  • the supply of samples

  • the provision of inducements to prescribe, supply, administer, recommend, buy or sell medicines by the gift, offer or promise of any benefit or bonus, whether in money or in-kind

  • the provision of hospitality for promotional purposes

  • the sponsorship of promotional events/meetings

  • the sponsorship of scientific events/meetings, including payment of travelling and accommodation expenses in connection therewith

  • all other promotion

Advertising and Promotion of Medicines

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

This definition is taken from “ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2021.

You can begin to see therefore that there is more to this than meets the eye.

Medicines are not normal items of commerce and special rules and specific legislation control their sale and promotion. Knowing the legal status of your medicine (prescription, pharmacy or general sale) is the main starting point. You can advertise any over-the-counter medicine (general sales list and pharmacy medicines), to the general public. You can’t advertise prescription-only medicines (POMs) to the general public, but you can promote them to healthcare professionals and others who can prescribe or supply the product.

Help is at hand. If you or your organisation wish to promote Over The Counter medicines to healthcare professionals or the public you should become very familiar with the PAGB codes:


For prescription products you need to be conversant with the ABPI Code:

ABPI 2021 Code of Practice

These Codes drill into the detail but without expert guidance they themselves can only form part of the answer. JensonR+ has extensive knowledge of the legislative and regulatory landscapes which controls the promotion of products across the varying sectors, be that medicine, device, food, cosmetic or general product. We are here to help and provide guidance and technical support. We do this skilfully and swiftly to ensure your brand has the best chance of commercial success.

If you’ve any questions I’d be happy to answer those. Get in touch at

James Hall