- Last Updated on 05 July 2012
Policy on acceptance of advertisements
1. Acceptance of advertisements
The acceptance of all advertisements in ICNApedia is subject to editorial approval.
ICNApedia or The ICNA reserves the right to decline any advertisement or discontinue the publication of any advertisement previously approved.
ICNApedia or The ICNA policy is to accept advertising for products that will be useful for its readers in their professional as well as personal lives, subject to editorial approval and provided that advertisements conform to our guidelines
In addition, ICNApedia or The ICNA has specific policies on the following types of advertising:
2. Policies for specific advertisement types
(a) Non-medical products that are harmful or potentially harmful to health
ICNApedia or The ICNA policy is to accept advertisements for alcohol, provided that they conform to the guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion. Recruitment notices from the alcohol industry are generally acceptable.
All copy is to be submitted to the ICNApedia editor for approval before publication.
(ii) Baby milks
All advertisements are to be submitted for editorial approval and have to comply with FMF Code of Practice for the Marketing of Infant Formulae in the UK, which states that "Information provided by manufacturers and distributors to health workers regarding infant formulae should be restricted to scientific and factual matters and such information should not imply or create a belief that bottle-feeding is equivalent or superior to breast feeding." Such information "should accurately reflect current knowledge and responsible opinion." All claims must be referenced to full length research papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals. (Abstracts won't do.)
According to expert opinion, tanning with sunbeds that emit ultraviolet A radiation should be discouraged. All advertisements should therefore be passed to the ICNApedia editor for approval.
(b) Medical products licensed for use under medical supervision
No product may be promoted until a product licence has been granted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Marketing of the product may start only after data sheets have been released to members of the medical profession and must conform to the marketing authorisation contained in the product licence.
Promotion of a medicine in the UK must conform to both the Medicines Act 1968 and the ABPI Code of Practice. The ABPI code duplicates the legal requirements of the act and extends them considerably. It is binding to all members of the ABPI. Most non-members of ABPI have also agreed to comply with the code. It governs all methods of product promotion and all details of each method.
Throughout the pharmaceutical industry, personnel are trained to ensure that promotional material conforms to the requirements of the Medicines Act and the ABPI code. No material may be released until a final proof has been certified as meeting all code requirements by a nominated physician and a nominated pharmacist (or similarly qualified).
The ICNA holds the view that the stringency of these requirements makes research by the editorial teams of ICNApedia into the safety and efficacy of medicines unnecessary.
Advertisements for prescription-only medicines will be accepted subject to editorial approval, provided that they conform to the ABPI code and meet the ICNA’s normal standards.
(c) Medical equipment and instruments
Since April 2005 all medical devices have been regulated by the MHRA. All advertisements for medical devices must conform to the MHRA guidelines. The medical devices being advertised must also carry CE Marking (www.ce-marking.org/). Marketing of a product without this marking will constitute a criminal offence. The advertiser should confirm the presence of CE Marking before the advertisement is submitted for approval.
(d) Books and other publications
ICNApedia will accept advertisements for books and other publications, subject to editorial approval.
ICNApedia reserves the right to request a copy of the publication if he or she believes that the contents should be scrutinised before approval can be given.
Advertisements may be rejected if they are for books that are apparently tasteless, obscene, or make unwarranted claims.
(e) Competitor advertising
ICNApedia or The ICNA believes in competition and is against protectionism, and it will accept advertisements from competitors even if they refuse ours.
There may be circumstances where ICNApedia or The ICNA refuses an advertisement from a competitor on the grounds that it may have a serious impact on our products and business.
Acceptance of all advertisements from competitors is subject to editorial approval
(f) Medical product purporting to have therapeutic effect but not listed in the BNF
(i) Foodstuffs, food supplements, vitamins, and minerals
Advertisement for foodstuffs, food supplements, vitamins, and minerals should conform to the guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion and should be submitted with full substantiation of all claims. All claims must be referenced to full length research papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals. (Abstracts won't do.)The ICNApedia editor must approve all advertisements before publication.
(ii) Slimming and other performance enhancing (mental or physical) aids
Advertisements for products that purport to aid slimming must conform to the guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion. The ICNApedia editor must approve all advertisements before publication.
(iii) Non-conventional therapies
Where the advertisement relates to non-conventional therapies, the advertiser must submit full supporting evidence of efficacy with the copy. The ICNApedia editor must approve all advertisements before publication.
(iv) Health and beauty products
All advertisements should conform to the general guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion and should in addition meet the following standards:
Hair and scalp
Advertisements should confirm to guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
Claims made about the action that a cosmetic has on or in the skin should be backed by evidence in the form of human trials. Such evidence should be available for inspection by consumers. If not, the advertisement should carry a clear indication such as “Not backed by evidence” or “Evidence not available to scrutiny.” Advertisements should make it clear if the effects of a cosmetic are due to the composition of the product or the way in which it is applied, such as massage. This distinction should also be based on scientific evidence.
Creams that are intended to lighten the skin colour should state clearly that this is their intended purpose and include possible side effects of such preparations. Misleading phrases such as “brighten the skin” should not be used.
Advertisements for cosmetics which claim to prevent, delay, or mask premature ageing of the skin temporarily should be backed by evidence in the form of trials conducted on people, which are available for scrutiny by consumers.
All advertisements should be submitted for editorial approval.
(g) Services claiming therapeutic effect
(i) Slimming clinics
Whether the advertisement promotes the services of the clinic or seeks to recruit staff, three assurances must be sought from the clinic’s director before the ICNApedia editor will consider the advertisement for publication:
· The clinic must be a registered company.
· It must be run and staffed by medically qualified people who are able to make independent medical decisions.
· Its staff must be familiar with and operate within the General Medical Council’s criteria for good practice and the Guidelines for Doctors Employed by Private Organisations providing Clinical Diagnostic or Medical Advisory Services and the guidance given on appetite suppressants in the current issue of the BNF.
When an advertisement is received from a slimming clinic, its director must submit a letterhead showing company registration and sign a declaration guaranteeing conformity with above. Only then will the advertisement (with the declaration) be passed on for editorial approval. In addition to the above, if an advertisement promotes services offered by the slimming clinic, it must conform to guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
(ii) Cosmetic clinics
Whether the advertisement promotes the services of the clinic or seeks to recruit staff, the clinic’s director must give two assurances before the ICNApedia editor will consider the advertisement for publication:
The clinic must be a registered company.
Its practices must conform to the advice offered by the BMA Guidelines for Doctors Employed by Private Organisations providing Clinical Diagnostic or Medical Advisory services.
When an advertisement is received from a cosmetic clinic, its director must submit a letter showing company registration and must sign a declaration guaranteeing conformity with above. Only then will the advertisement be submitted (with the declaration) for editorial approval.
In addition to the above, if an advertisement promotes services offered by the clinic, it must conform to guidelines of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
(iii) Pregnancy advisory, sterilisation, vasectomy, and pregnancy testing services
All advertisements must be submitted for editorial approval.
(h) Non-medical services
(i) Financial services
The ICNA negotiates special rates with numerous preferred suppliers on behalf of its members.ICNApedia is contractually unable to accept advertisements from competitive service suppliers without the prior permission of the ICNA.
(ii) Travel agents
All advertisements for travel services to appear in ICNApedia should be submitted to the ICNApedia administrator for approval.
Advertisements for travel services to appear in the ICNA publications including ICNApedia should be submitted for editorial approval.
Advertisements will be accepted, provided that the company is registered and is ATA/ABTA bonded.
(iii) Mail order
No advertisements will be accepted if they request cash with the order.
(iv) Locum agencies
Until 1994, advertisements from locum agencies were accepted, provided that the agency was registered with the Department of Employment and held an employment licence number.
After deregulation in October 1994, a locum agency needs only to provide evidence that it is a registered company and signs a statement confirming that all claims can be substantiated should a challenge arise. If challenged and unable to provide substantiation, the advertisement will be withdrawn and all future copy claims will have to be substantiated before publication
This procedure is forced by the extraordinary sensitivity of the locum market. Independent of this procedure, the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency checks the published ads of national contract holders to ensure conformity with NHS guidelines.
(v) Escort agencies, introductory services, and private advertisements
Escort agencies, introductory services, and dating agencies exist to meet a demand. There is no reason to believe that the demand does not exist among the medical community. ICNA / ICNApedia therefore accepts advertisements from this group of advertisers as it does from any advertiser promoting a service of use to doctors. Advertisements should be submitted to the ICNApedia editor for approval and should conform to the general principles of the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion.
(vi) Property advertisements
Property advertisements are accepted subject to the usual adherence to the British Code on Advertising and Sales Promotion.
Where property or land is being sold as part of a land banking scheme or where fractional land plots are being sold, the advertiser must be registered with the FSA.
(i) Recruitment advertisements
Intending applicants are solely responsible for checking terms and conditions of service. Warnings to this effect appear in ICNApedia. Applicants are also asked to bear in mind that the US law does not apply to advertisements from other countries.
Some job advertisements are subjected to particular scrutiny/monitoring:
Slimming/cosmetic surgery clinics—see sections 1 (f) (i) and 1 (f) (ii)
Locum agencies—see section 1 (g) (v)
Overseas posts, if potentially discriminatory in UK law, but not in the country which the post will be based, must be submitted to the ICNApedia editor for approval.
ICNApedia now publishes all advertisements that conform to the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act.
Where exemptions are claimed by the advertiser, she or he will be sent a declaration for signature to cover the publisher liability of ICNApedia or The ICNA.
(k) Advertisement features (advertorials)
ICNApedia or The ICNA accepts advertisement features (advertorials) subject to editorial approval and provided that the following criteria are met:
The whole advertisement should appear in a box, which should be centred on the page. A minimum of a 10 mm gap should separate the box and the edge of the page.
The words “Advertisement Feature” should be prominently displayed between the top of the box and the top of the page.
Advertisers should have no intention to imitate the editorial style of the BMJ or any of the BMJ Journals.
The typefaces Plantin, Baskerville, and any other typeface closely resembling these must not be used in body count, headlines, and crossheads.
Copy should not be presented on any grid pattern that matches part of the BMJ or the BMJ Journals.
Tints that commonly appear on ICNApedia must not be used, thereby avoiding confusion with editorial matter.
All clinical photographs should be accompanied by written permission for their use, provided by the patient, guardian, or next of kin. Bars across the eyes are not acceptable for masking identity and should not be used. (This condition is applied to clinical photographs used elsewhere in journals published by the ICNA.
Where possible, advertisers should provide copies of references used in the text.
ICNA approval or acceptance should not be implied in the copy or in any offers.
The ICNApedia editor retains the right to amend any copy.
Draft copy should be submitted to the ICNApedia editor at least four weeks before the cover date. This period may be reduced at the ICNApedia editor’s discretion.
The sponsoring company’s name must appear somewhere in the advertisement feature.
Advertisement features should be restricted to a maximum of two per edition.
(l) Political and politically sensitive advertising
ICNApedia or The ICNA avoids identifying itself with particular political parties. At election times efforts are made to achieve balance in coverage of the proposals and policies of the major parties. There might thus be an argument for not carrying advertisements from political parties, but refusing to carry legal and decent advertisements would be againstICNApedia or The ICNA’s liberal policy on advertising. ICNA / ICNApedia will therefore carry political advertising if it conforms to the British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion. The advertisement should, however, be approved by the ICNApedia editor or his or her deputy.
In the case of advertisements making non-party political points, we will follow our liberal policy, but all advertisements should be approved by the ICNApedia editor or deputy editor.
There are times when certain advertisements will create political sensitivities—perhaps for example, because they come from bodies that are in dispute with the ICNA
If an advertisement is thought to be politically sensitive then it should be approved by the ICNApedia editor or deputy editor.
(m) Accusations against advertisers
The ICNA takes seriously all accusations against advertisers, but complainants must be advised that they can gain redress only through the usual legal channels.
The advertiser should be invited to respond to accusations. The advertiser may accept the complaint and revise the advertisement, or may argue that that the complaint is unjust.
The advertising manager will consider all complaints against advertisers and their responses, and sometime may decline further advertising. This step can rarely be taken after a single complaint but may be taken after several independent complaints.