Contributed By Walder Wyss Ltd
All information in advertising, especially indications and possible applications, must be in accordance with the drug information most recently approved by Swissmedic. The properties of the medicine as described in words, images and sound must be presented factually correctly and without exaggeration. The advertising must be recognisable as such and clearly distinguishable from editorial contributions. A medicine, an indication, a dosage, a galenic form or a package may be advertised as “new” for eighteen months after its first authorisation in Switzerland and it must be clearly indicated what this attribute refers to. Medicines in supply categories C and D must be clearly presented as such and any advertising for these medicines must include at least the name of the product, the authorisation-holder and at least one indication or possible use. It must further include the explicit and legible reference, in the case of a medicine with package leaflet, “This is an authorised medicine. Read the package leaflet.” or, in the case of a medicine without package leaflet, “This is an authorised medicine. Read the information on the package.” (Article 16 AWV).
There are certain special provisions for advertising of medicines of categories C and D in electronic media. For television commercials and cinema advertising, a note with the following message must be displayed at the end: “This is an authorised medicine. Read the package leaflet.” or, in the case of a medicine without package leaflet, “This is an authorised medicine. Ask a specialist for advice and read the information on the package.” This notice must be displayed legibly on a neutral background in a font block size of at least one third the size of the overall picture. In the case of cinema advertising it should be in at least the font size customary for subtitles – at the same time this notice must be clearly spoken. In the case of radio spots, a note with the following wording must be inserted at the end: “[product name] is an authorised medicine. Ask a specialist for advice and read the package leaflet” or, for medicines without a package leaflet: “[product name] is an approved medicine. Ask a specialist for advice and read the information on the package.” This notice must be spoken in a manner that is easily comprehensible. Advertising on electronic display boards must display the following message at the end: “This is an authorised medicine. Ask a specialist for advice and read the package leaflet” or, for medicines without a package leaflet: “This is an authorised medicine. Ask a specialist for advice and read the information on the package.” This notice must be displayed legibly on a neutral background in a text block at least one third the size of the advertisement and for at least five seconds (Article 17 AWV).
While medicines in supply categories C and D must use the reference to their authorisation status in any advertisements, medicines in supply category E may not use their authorisation status in advertising (Article 17a AWV). Advertising for medicines with a cantonal authorisation is subject to special provisions (Article 17b AWV).
In advertising that is only intended to recall a certain brand, only the product name or additionally the name of the marketing authorisation-holder may be mentioned. Brand advertising is not permitted in cinemas, on the radio and on television (Article 18 AWV).
Advertising on radio and television for medicines for human use containing alcohol and intended for oral use is only permitted if the maximum single dose of these products according to the recommended dosage contains less than 0.5 g pure alcohol (Article 20 AWV).
Advertising directed at the general public may not include indications or applications for which a medical diagnosis or treatment is required. It may not be obtrusive, blatant or appear to be an editorial contribution. Orders for medicines may not be accepted on the occasion of home visits, exhibitions, lectures or the likes. Furthermore, the direct distribution of medicines for the purpose of sales promotions as well as vouchers and competitions are prohibited. Finally, advertisements may also not include any invitation to contact the marketing authorisation-holder. Some of the mentioned prohibitions do not, however, apply to medicines in category E (Article 21 AWV).
Advertisements may not make a medical examination or surgical intervention appear superfluous, promise a guaranteed effect or claim that the product has no undesirable effects. In addition, advertising may not raise the expectation that the effect of a medicine corresponds to another treatment or to the effect of another medicine or that it is superior to them. It may further not give rise to the expectation that the condition of a healthy person will be improved with or that such a condition will deteriorate without the use of the medicine. Advertisements may never be aimed mainly or exclusively at children or adolescents or mention scientific publications, clinical studies, expert opinions, reports or recommendations by scientists, healthcare professionals, well-known personalities or medical–pharmaceutical laypersons. Furthermore, they may not show persons in the professional clothing of medical personnel, druggists or medical assistants or during medical activities specific to the profession.
The use of misleading, fictitious or not recognised titles or distinctions is prohibited as well as any phrases that may induce fear. The advertisement may not equate the medicine to food, feed, care products or other commodities or suggest that the safety or efficacy of the medicine is due to the fact that it is a “natural product” or the like. In no way may the advertisement lead to a false self-diagnosis through the presentation of a medical history nor may it use in an abusive, alarming or misleading manner visual representations of changes that the human body or parts thereof have undergone as a result of disease, injury or as a result of the effect of a medicine. Finally, the number of persons treated may not be disclosed (Article 22 AWV).