Medicinal and Related Products and Advertisements Containing Health Claims
1.1 Special care should be taken by advertisers to ensure that the spirit, as well as the letter of the Code, is scrupulously observed.
2.1 The word “product” in this Part is to be taken to refer also to treatments and courses of treatment and to medical devices, except where the context does not permit, or as expressly provided otherwise.
3.1 This section of the Code applies to the following categories of advertisements:
(i) Those for medicines, medical or surgical treatment and medical devices
(ii) Those for toiletry and other products which claim or imply therapeutic or prophylactic qualities
(iii) Those for any product, which is advertised, whether wholly or in part, upon the basis that it may improve, restore or maintain the user’s health or his physical or mental condition
3.2 Individual advertisements published by or under the authority of a Government Ministry or Department and advertisements addressed directly to registered medical or dental practitioners, pharmacists, registered medical auxiliaries or nurses, are excluded from the application of the restrictions within this section of the Code as are from time to time considered inappropriate, bearing in mind the source of the advertisement or the professional qualifications of those to whom it is addressed; provided always that such advertisements conform in every respect
to the provisions of the Code.
3.3 There should not appear in any advertisement of any food for sale the words “recommended by the Medical Profession” or any word or words or other representations which imply or suggest that the food is recommended, prescribed or approved by medical practitioners.
3.4 All advertisements containing medical claims must be approved by Lembaga Iklan Ubat, Kementerian Kesihatan.
4. Impressions of Professional Advice or Support
4.1 Claims of medical or other professional support for any product whether in the copy text or illustration, or otherwise, should be substantiated and the extent of such support should not be exaggerated in any way.
4.2 Detailed evidence should be made available to the Advertising Standards Malaysia in support of any reference to tests, whether carried out by the advertiser or otherwise.
4.3 Reference to tests, trials, research, doctors’ preferences or prescribing habits or the use of the product or treatment in hospitals, clinics and the like may only be used if they are fully substantiated. References to tests or trials conducted in a named hospital or by a named professional or official organisation are permissible only if authorised and approved by the authority of the hospital or other organisation concerned. Moreover, they are acceptable only if the study and findings have been openly published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal.
4.4 Where reference is made in an advertisement to a test or other research which has been carried out other than by an independent organisation or without independent medical supervision, this fact should be clearly indicated. Moreover, such test or research is acceptable only if the study and findings have been openly published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal.
4.5 Professional journals should not be named or quoted without permission, and references to such journals should not give any unjustified impression of professional support. Only peer-reviewed journals may be quoted in this regard.
4.6 References to doctors, dentists, nurses and the like contained in any advertisement should refer only to those registered in Malaysia unless it is made clear that the person referred to is not so registered and are acceptable only when the relevant Professional Body confirms in writing that such reference does not contravene its ethical code.
4.7 Advertisements should not refer to any ‘College’, ‘Hospital’, ‘Clinic’, ‘Institute’, ‘Laboratory’, or similar establishment unless there exists a bonafide establishment corresponding to the description used, which is under the regular and effective supervision of a registered medical practitioner or other person holding an appropriate recognised qualification. Such reference should also clearly state if the establishment is connected in any way with the product being advertised.
4.8 No address, title or description which may imply that a product emanates from any hospital or official source, or is other than a proprietary product, is acceptable for advertising unless substantiation is available from the advertiser.
4.9 Visual and/or audio representation of doctors, dentists, pharmaceutical chemists, nurses, midwives etc. which give the impression of professional advice or recommendation should not be used.
4.10 No statements should be used giving the impression of professional advice or recommendation made by persons who appear in the advertisements and who are presented either directly or by implication, as being qualified to give such advice or recommendation. To avoid misunderstanding about the status of a presenter of a medicine or treatment, it may be necessary to establish positively in the course of an advertisement that the presenter is not a professionally qualified adviser.
4.11 No reference may be made to any hospital test unless the Ministry of Health is prepared to vouch for its validity.
4.12 Prescription Drugs: Drugs requiring medical prescription should not be advertised.
5. Unacceptable General Claims
5.1.1 No advertisement should employ any words, phrases or illustration which claim or imply the cure of any ailment, illness or disease, condition, disability or infirmity affecting the body as distinct from the relief of its symptoms.
5.2 Diagnosis, Prescription or Treatment
5.2.1 No advertisement should contain any offer to diagnose, advise, prescribe or treat by correspondence.
5.2.2 No advertisement should refer to any skill or service relating to the treatment of any ailment, disease, injury or condition affecting the human body so as to induce
any person to seek the advice of the advertiser or any person referred to in the advertisement.
5.3 Appeals to Fear
5.3.1 Advertisements should not contain any statement or illustration likely to induce fear on the part of the reader, viewer or listener that he is suffering, or may without treatment suffer, or suffer more severely, from an ailment, illness or disease.
5.4 Conditions Requiring Medical Attention
5.4.1 No advertisement should offer any product or service for a condition which needs the attention of a registered medical or other qualified practitioner.
5.5 Encouragement of excess
5.5.1 No advertisement should encourage, directly or indirectly, indiscriminate, unnecessary or excessive use of products within the scope of this section of the Code.
5.6.1 No advertisement should make exaggerated claims, in particular through the selection of testimonials or other evidence unrepresentative of its effectiveness, or by claiming that it possesses some special property or quality which is incapable of being established.
5.6.2 Advertisements should not contain copy text which is exaggerated by reason of the improper use of words, phrases or methods of presentation e.g. the use of the words ‘magic’, ‘magical’, ‘miracle’, ‘miraculous’ etc.
5.7 Refund of Money
5.7.1 No advertisement should contain any offer to refund money to dissatisfied users of any product within the scope of this section, other than appliances or therapeutic clothing.
5.8.1 No advertisement for a medicine or treatment should include a testimonial by a person well known in public life, sports, entertainment, professional bodies, etc.
5.8.2 No advertisement should claim that a product does not contain a given ingredient which is in common use by competitive products in any way which may give the impression that the ingredient is generally unsafe or harmful.
5.9.1 Advertisements for medicines, treatments and appliances should not contain any reference to a competition for prizes or similar schemes.
5.9.2 An advertisement relating to goods for therapeutic use should not contain any offer of a free sample.
6. Unacceptable Claims: Particular Products
6.1 Particular attention is drawn to the diseases and conditions listed in Part Q to which are limited or no reference may be made and the provisions contained therein.
6.2.1 Advertisements should not claim or imply that any products, medicines or treatment offered therein will induce miscarriage.
6.3.1 Advertisements for analgesics should not make exaggerated claims about the speed at which a product can relieve pain.
6.3.2 Advertisements should not make exaggerated claims or implications about the certainty and speed with which the product can relieve the symptoms of the common cold or influenza, or reduce a fever or an increase in body temperature.
6.4 Anti-Perspirants and Deodorants
6.4.1 Advertisements should make no claims for products taken by mouth which claim body deodorant effect.
6.4.2 Advertisements for anti-perspirants should not make exaggerated claims to keep skin dry either absolutely, or for a specific period.
6.5 Antiseptics, Germicides and Disinfectants
6.5.1 No advertisement for any product in these categories should claim or imply that:
(i) It offers complete protection against disease, or the danger of infection.
(ii) It is a substitute for cleanliness.
6.5.2 Advertisements should not exaggerate the dangers of the presence of germs in the normal domestic situation.
6.6 Bust Developers
6.6.1 Advertisements for preparation and devices purporting to promote enlargement of the breasts are not acceptable.
6.6.2 Exercise and courses including exercise which may have an incidental effect on the bustline, may not be advertised in such a way as to place a predominant emphasis on any effect of improving, increasing or enlarging the bustline.
6.7 Contraceptives and Birth Control
6.7.1 There is no objection under the Code to the advertising of contraceptive methods, either in general or in particular, provided a reference is made in appropriate cases to the fact that certain methods are available only on prescription.
6.7.2 The effectiveness or safety of particular methods in comparison with others should not be exaggerated.
6.8.1 Products for the removal of corns may be advertised subject to medical approval of the product for this purpose.
6.9.1 Claims that a product contains special properties should be supported by acceptable evidence that the ingredient is indeed beneficial for the purpose referred to.
6.9.2 Advertisements should not contain any claim or implication that a preparation will promote rejuvenation of the skin or muscles or that hormones or vitamins remove or delay the formation of wrinkles.
6.10.1 Advertisements for ‘electric pencils’ and similar products, offered for lay use, are unacceptable, as are claims for products the effectiveness of which is claimed to be based upon their ‘radioactive’ properties.
6.11.1 Antiseptic gargles should not be presented as cough treatment.
6.12.1 No claims may be made in any advertisement based upon the inclusion of ginseng in the advertised product.
6.13 Hay Fever and Other Allergic Conditions
6.13.1 Advertisements referring to hay fever or other allergic conditions causing coughs, sneezing or catarrh may not suggest that the product will clear up the condition itself unless it contains the appropriate antigens or be universally effective against the condition or allergy. Claims for products which do not contain antigens should be limited to the temporary relief of symptoms.
6.14.1 Advertisements should not claim or imply that the product is suitable for the treatment of serious, frequent or regular attacks. This does not preclude claims that analgesic products may relieve the symptoms of migrainous headaches.
6.14.2 Advertisements should not encourage people to take medicines of any kind before headaches as prevention.
6.14.3 No product may be advertised as a course of treatment for headaches. This does not preclude incidental reference to headaches in advertisements for products containing iron, which may be offered as a short course of treatment for women whose diet may sometimes be deficient in this mineral.
6.15 Hearing Aids
6.15.1 Where an advertisement states the price of a hearing aid, the advertisement should specify the upper and lower limits of its overall price range.
6.15.2 The names of hearing aids should not in themselves exaggerate the product’s effectiveness (e.g. such names as ‘Magic Sound’ and ‘Miracle Ear’ are not acceptable).
6.16 Hearing Aid Exhibitions
6.16.1 Advertisements for such exhibitions should only be accepted where the organiser has given an undertaking that :
(i) He will ensure the presence of at least one registered dispenser at all times throughout the period the exhibition is open;
(ii) He will offer for inspection a comprehensive range of hearing aids models; and
(iii) He will make available for purposes of testing at least one pure tone and one speech audiometer.
6.16.2 The full name and address of the advertiser’s head office should be prominently stated in any advertisement for a hearing aid show or exhibition, and no impression should be given that such events are other than commercially promoted.
6.17 Height Increase Courses
6.17.1 Advertisements for products or courses of treatment purporting to increase height are not acceptable.
6.17.2 The ruling does not apply to advertisements for ‘elevator’ shoes and similar products.
6.17.3 General courses of physical development, one consequence of which may be to increase the apparent height through improvement of posture, may not be advertised in such a way as to place predominant emphasis upon increasing height.
6.18 Herbal, Homeopathic and Acupuncture Remedies
6.18.1 For the purpose of this Code claims made for herbal and homeopathic products and acupuncture treatment will be assessed in the light of expert opinion. No claims will be acceptable in advertisements by non- orthodox practitioners, or for products based upon their principles, which would not be allowed to orthodox practitioners or products based upon orthodox principles nor should any advertisement by or for non- orthodox products or practitioners seek to cast doubt on, or claim superiority to, orthodox practitioners or products.
6.19 Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, Psychology, Psychoanalysis or Psychiatry
6.19.1 Advertisements addressed to the general public should be restricted to visiting card particulars only, i.e. name, address and telephone number, hours of consultation, description of professional status, e.g. hypnotherapist.
6.20 Hormones and Cell Extracts
6.20.1 Advertisements addressed to the general public should not contain any exaggerated claim to efficacy based merely upon the fact that a product includes hormones or animal cell extract.
6.21 Indigestion Remedies
6.21.1 References to nausea, lack of appetite or aversion to food, which may well be symptoms of more serious conditions, are unacceptable in connection with claims for indigestion remedies.
6.21.2 Advertisements on infant food should at all times promote breast feeding as the choice form of feeding for infants and at no instance, should artificial infant feeding be implied as preferred over breast feeding.
6.22.1 Laxatives should not be advertised for habitual or indiscriminate use, for the relief of abdominal pain or backache, for any benefit to complexion or appearance, or for the relief of indigestion, other than abdominal discomfort owing to constipation.
6.23 Piles (Haemorrhoids)
6.23.1 Advertisements should not contain any offer of products for the treatment of haemorrhoids unless the directions for use on the container itself or its labels include advice to the effect that persons who suffer from haemorrhoids should consult a doctor.
6.24 Polyunsaturated Fats
6.24.1 Advertisements addressed to the general public for food products (or food supplements) containing polyunsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fatty acids
should not contain any claim that the inclusion of such fats in the diet or their substitution for other fats of different chemical constitution offers any specific health benefit.
6.25 Pregnancy Advisory Services and Counselling, Pregnancy Testing, Sterilisation, Vasectomy
6.25.1 Advertisements for services offering advice on abortion may not be accepted.
Advertisements offering advice on sterilisation and vasectomy must have the clearance of the Ministry of Health.
6.25.2 No advertisement should contain a reference to pregnancy-testing unless the advertiser has received the clearance of the Ministry of Health. Advertisements for pregnancy-testing services which have received clearance are acceptable only in the form prescribed when clearance is given.
6.25.3 Advertisements for pregnancy test kits for home use may be acceptable, subject to the approval by the Ministry of Health.
6.26 Prescribed Drugs
6.26.1 Drugs requiring medical prescription should not be advertised except as permitted by Law.
6.27 Prevention of Ageing
6.27.1 No advertisement should contain any claim for rejuvenation or the prevention of ageing or that the process of ageing can be retarded based upon a product’s procaine or any other content.
6.28 Protein Claims
6.28.1 Protein claims in food advertising must conform to the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1983.
6.28.2 References to proteins in other advertisements should avoid giving any impression that their inclusion in non-food products offers any nutritive benefit.
6.29 Rheumatic and Allied Pains
6.29.1 Advertisements may not refer to any medicine, product, appliance or device in terms calculated to lead to its use for the treatment of any form of arthritis, or chronic or persistent rheumatism.
6.29.2 There is no generally accepted evidence that bangles (or other objects to be worn or carried) can alleviate rheumatic or muscular pains, and such claims for them are not acceptable.
6.29.3 Bath additives may be offered to encourage the taking of hot baths for their soothing effect on muscular pain or stiffness, but no claims should be made, such as references to spa water, which suggest that the additives themselves provide any medical benefit.
6.29.4 Advertisements should not contain any claims for the relief of backaches and rheumatic pains based upon the urinal antiseptic properties of the products advertised.
6.30 Scheduled Poisons
6.30.1 No products which are poisons within the meaning of Poisons Act 1952 should be advertised.
6.31 Toothpastes and Other Similar Products
6.31.1 Prevention of Decay
(i) Fluoride Toothpastes
Certain formulations containing fluoride have been shown by independent medical research to reduce the incidence of tooth decay in children. Claims made for such products should not exaggerate the result or applicability of such research. Claims as to the effectiveness of such products should also include the need to brush teeth regularly.
(ii) Other Toothpastes
Claims may indicate that regular brushing with the toothpaste may help fight tooth decay.
(i) Bad Breath
It should not be claimed that a toothpaste or other product will completely destroy bacteria causing mouth odour or that it will provide long lasting freedom from mouth odour.
(ii) Food Particles
No advertisement for a toothpaste, chewing gum or tablets intended to clean the teeth should suggest that the product will remove all food particles from the teeth or gums. It should not be claimed that chewing gum or tablets can take the place of brushing after meals.
6.32 Vitamins and Minerals
6.32.1 Advertisements should not state or imply that good health is likely to be endangered solely because people do not supplement their diets with vitamins. In particular no advertisement for a product containing vitamins or minerals should
make any claims that:
(i) There is evidence of general or widespread vitamin or mineral deficiency.
(ii) A full varied and properly prepared diet needs to be supplemented by vitamin or mineral products.
(iii) Good looks and good health are better maintained or that irritability, ‘nerviness’ and lack of energy can be avoided merely through the consumption of additional vitamins and minerals.
(iv) The application of vitamins to the skin is in any way beneficial.
(v) The inclusion of vitamins in suntan lotions has any effect either in promoting suntan or preventing sunburn.
6.32.2 No advertisement addressed to the general public is acceptable for a vitamin preparation which contains folic acid in quantities which may cause it to mask symptoms of pernicious anaemia.
6.32.3 Iron preparations: products offered for the symptoms of nutritional iron deficiency should provide an appropriate dosage of iron.
6.33 Sexual Weakness and Loss of Virility
6.33.1 Advertisements should not suggest or imply that any product, medicines or treatment offered therein will promote sexual virility or be effective in treating sexual weakness or habits associated with sexual excess or indulgence, or ailment, illness or disease associated with such habits.
PART 3 – Advertising for Alcoholic Drinks
1. The alcoholic drinks industry and the advertising business accept responsibility for ensuring that advertising is always socially responsible and that their advertisements should not seek to:
(i) Encourage excessive consumption and over indulgence, and nor suggest that drinking can overcome boredom, loneliness or other problems; and
(ii) Exploit those who are especially vulnerable because of age, inexperience or any physical, mental or social incapacity.
2. Normally, children should not be portrayed in advertisements for alcoholic drinks; however, in a scene where it would be natural for them to be present (e.g. a family situation), they may be included, provided that it is made clear that they are not drinking alcoholic beverages.