All systems GO with pharmacy services ... but how to promote them within the rules?
Pharmacies are embracing the digital era; ease, speed and availability of digital advertising being a key element. Digital advertising encompasses traditional website and e-commerce advertising, as well as the social spaces such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat YouTube and Twitter.
To stand out in the crowd, many pharmacies have found their points of difference and are now looking to communicate these with their customers. Digital advertising of these USPs is an astute option as it is versatile, personalised, scale-able and can be developed without lag-time. That said, the advertising is still subject to rules and regulations specific for the industry. Pharmacy advertising must comply with Australian Consumer Law and the pharmacists themselves have their registration dependent on observing AHPRA guidelines. Quality Care accredited pharmacies have advertising obligations under this scheme, and members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia also have practice standards which encompass the promotion of non-prescription medicines and devices.
So how can a pharmacy promote health services, the availability of specialty and expensive medicines or provision of methadone or buprenorphine to patients on opioid replacement therapy?
Broadly speaking, the same rules apply to all advertising of these products and services, whether on a website or in other media. These types of promotion require careful consideration.
Therapeutic goods are integral to the delivery of some of the health services offered by pharmacies.
Blood pressure monitoring – a blood pressure monitor is classed as a medical device, the use and supply of which is regulated by TGA.
Blood glucose screening – BGL monitors and testing strips are also classed as medical devices.
Other services that incorporate therapeutic goods in the delivery may be sleep apnoea assessments, EGC-risk testing, vaccination clinics, staged supply of medications, dose administration aids, wheelchair or crutches hire and opioid replacement therapy.
Any representation made that does, or may be likely to encourage the use or supply of a particular therapeutic good falls under the definition of advertising. All such advertising must meet the requirements of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.
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