ASCI issues advisory on misleading Covid-19 ads
In case advertisers choose to claim removal of other viruses, they should include a disclaimer that "claim not applicable to coronavirus (covid19)".
New Delhi: Taking cognizance of the misleading ads for products that claim to fight covid-19, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has issued an advisory to advertisers so that they can better adhere to the ASCI code on misleading advertisements.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, many advertisements with misleading claims around COVID-19 cures and preventions have cropped up.
Last month, the Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan had confirmed that the Ministry of AYUSH received 154 misleading advertisements on AYUSH-related claims for COVID-19 treatment from different parts of the country till August 2020.
"Incidences of COVID-19 related exaggerated claims and misleading advertisements of ASU drugs have been reported by pharmacovigilance centers and forwarded to State Licensing Authorities/Drug Controllers and individual advertisers/manufacturers for corrective action," the Minister had revealed during a parliamentary session.
Now, through an advisory, the advertising watchdog has directed the advertisers of Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy products and services to abide by the order of the ministry of AYUSH dated 1 April on coronavirus ads that restrict companies from making any false claims.
It further mentioned that ads should also avoid claiming to kill or remove any other virus as this too will be in violation of the ASCI Code.
In case advertisers choose to claim removal of other viruses, they should include a disclaimer that "claim not applicable to coronavirus (covid-19)". The disclaimer size and position should be in line with ASCI guidelines.
Advertisers were also advised to be particularly careful whilst making, directly or indirectly, claims to reduce the chances of becoming infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) or gain immunity against it.
It also highlighted that advertisers should be able to substantiate claims of immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) supported by either technical support recognized or approved by health authorities such as WHO, ICMR, MoHFW, AYUSH, DCGI, CDC (USA), or health organizations of similar stature or by well recognized medical/technical literature or by regulatory-approved clinical research conducted by a recognized medical institute/laboratory.
Products that are not internally consumed or applied in the body, therefore not required to be licensed under the Drug & Cosmetic Act, should be particularly cautious while making such claims unless they have claim-support data.
Commenting on the same, Manisha Kapoor, general secretary, ASCI told Live Mint, "We want advertisers to be more mindful in creating ads and making claims related to covid-19. Brands have also responded to consumer needs arising out of the pandemic. However, we want these products and ads to stick to claims and promises that are backed by adequate substantiation. The advisory to advertisers is meant to safeguard consumers as well as to ensure the highest standards for advertising."