Communication through digital media vastly influences the perception of consumers regarding a product/service. Hence, pharmaceutical firms are constantly evolving to achieve a fair balance while advertising their products. Regulators, on the other hand, monitor the quality and authenticity of the data being published. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the significance of communication was the essence. After the first EUA was granted (within 8 months of development), monitoring the source and authenticity of diverging information became overwhelming. To avoid miscommunication and educate patients about the efficacy and importance of vaccination, the Government encouraged various private organizations to initiate campaigns. Outlining the guidelines across uniform communication and promotion of vaccines, in 2019, TGA released permission letters as a roadmap for advertisers to navigate amidst the noise.
Overlooking advertisements and related promotional materials in Australia, TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) put forward a series of permission documents, as a revised set of guidance based on Therapeutic Goods (Restricted representation-Commonwealth campaigns) permission 2018. A recent update in the permission guidance provides detailed instructions for vaccine promotion and highlights restrictions around the same. The 2021 guidance very clearly states that the guidance does not apply to the ads and promotional activity made by following the 2019 permission document.
As a means to support vaccination efforts, TGA encourages promotion by private individuals or organizations. However, to keep communication homogenous across platforms, detailed instructions have been put in place.
To lawfully promote COVID-19 vaccines:
- Using Government-created promotional material -
Under the stated guidance, any party is allowed to use promotional material produced by the Australian Government or an Australian state or territory government to promote COVID-19 vaccines. The material should not be altered or added to in a promotional way. However, where the material has given space for the advertiser to add specific information, it is allowed.
- Self-developed material -
Keeping the importance of proper communication at its core, TGA has issued subsequent legal permission (the 2021 permission) that allows advertisers such as health professionals, participating vaccination sites, corporate entities, media outlets, and others to develop their material as long as the communication remains compliant with the stated guidelines.
- Offering incentives -
Under the guidance stated, any party can offer valuable consideration (cash or other rewards) to people who have been vaccinated under the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
- Factual and balanced information that does not constitute advertising -
Any party is eligible to publicly present factual and balanced information, that is not promotional and therefore not subject to the advertising rules, about the COVID-19 vaccines.
- For businesses facilitating vaccination at the workplace -
Australian businesses who partner with approved vaccine providers can advise their employees about the said brand and under the circumstances promote any brand name.
- Health professional’s information -
Generally, health providers are not allowed to endorse medicine or other therapeutic goods by the Health Authority. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the restriction has been lifted under the 2021 permission document.
The Health Authorities in association with the private organization through this initiative ensured that the information being circulated is filtered through optimal stages of scrutiny and is hence, reliable. Promoting vaccination drives across the globe and aims to achieve complete protection against the COVID-19 pandemic and bring about the ‘Next normal’. Our seasoned Regulatory experts can provide a quality review of your promotional material in compliance with your local Health Authority guidelines. Explore Freyr’s expertise across Ad promo services today! Contact us now. Stay informed. Stay compliant.