Advertising medicines

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

If you want to advertise medicines, you must keep to the rules specified in the Medicines Act (Geneesmiddelenwet). It distinguishes between advertising for prescription medicines and advertising for medicines available without prescription (over-the-counter medicines).

Advertising prescription medicines

You are not allowed to advertise prescription medicines to the public. You may advertise under certain conditions to professionals, such as doctors and dentists. The rules can be found in the Code of Conduct for Pharmaceutical Advertising (Gedragscode Geneesmiddelenreclame) of the Foundation for the Code for Pharmaceutical Advertising (Stichting Code Geneesmiddelenreclame, CGR) and Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use.

Advertising non-prescription medicines

Subject to certain conditions, you may advertise non-prescription medicines. For example, it must be clear in the advertisement that is is about medical products. It must also include instructions for use. Furthermore, the advertising must not be specifically aimed at children, and you may not suggest that the medicine advertised is better than other medicines.

Keep in mind that for the advertising of non-prescription medicines you need a marketing authorisation from the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB, College ter Beoordeling van Geneesmiddelen, CBG).

Inducement is prohibited

Inducement is a form of advertising. It means that you offer money, services, or goods to ensure that a medicinal product will be prescribed or used more often. For example, if you pay a physician’s costs to attend a convention. Inducements are prohibited although there a few exceptions, such as genuine consulting arrangements laid down in a written service agreement.

Advertising animal medicines

In some cases it is forbidden to advertise animal medicines (in Dutch), for example if they have been prescribed by a veterinarian or if you advertise non-registered animal medicines.

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