Which? gets illegal Botox advert taken downAdverts for prescription-only medicines illegal

27 October 2011

Woman's face being injected

People are increasingly choosing to give nature a helping hand

Action by Which? sees illegal advert for Botox injections and skin analysis taken down.

Adverts offered the treatments direct to the public via the Wowcher site, Metro newspaper and Wowcher's Twitter feed.

This is illegal under a raft of rules overseen by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA told Which? 'The promotion of any prescription only medicine to the public in the UK is prohibited. This would include any advertising for Botox.' It also told us it fully investigates all complaints received about Botox advertising to the public and takes action where necessary. 

Wowcher's reaction 

Wowcher is owned by AND Media, a division of the Associated Group - publishers of Metro and the Daily Mail.

A spokesperson for AND Media said: 'The Wowcher.co.uk deal offering skin analysis and facial injections has been withdrawn following an error in the way the deal was promoted. All Wowcher deals are subject to a thorough investigation before being offered on the site. Wowcher takes quality assurance processes, merchant selection and transparency in its deals for consumers very seriously.'

Wowcher also told Which? that: 

  • The 41 people who bought the deal on the Wowcher site will be contacted to check they still happy to go ahead with treatment
  • There would be a consultation to decide whether treatment was appropriate
  • The doctor named as only leading the team in the advert would in fact be carrying out the procedures
  • The failure to attribute Botox as a trademark on the online advert was an error

The clinic's reaction

The clinic where the treatments were to take place, Gigi London Medical Aesthetics Clinic told Which? that 'these treatments are always subject to consultation. If someone is not suitable, they will get a full refund - our word is final.'

Advertising Standards Agency logo

Take action

If you see advertising for Botox or other such treatments, you can complain via the MHRA website or the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The MHRA got 300 complaints about such advertising to the public in 2010. The ads were changed in more than 200 of those cases.

The ASA commented that 'Ads for Botox that are directed at the public would be in breach of the Advertising Codes and should be removed.'

Treatments You Can Trust

The advert was brought to Which?'s attention by Treatments You Can Trust, a self-regulatory body of injectable cosmetic providers.

Sally Taber, responsible for standards and training at Treatments You Can Trust, says 'With 1.4million cosmetic injectable treatments expected to be conducted in the UK this year, we are concerned by the increasing number of misleading and potentially unsafe deals for such treatments on group buying sites which are not only misleading but also putting the public at risk.'

More on this...

  • Join the Which? Conversation about scientific and medical claims in adverts and on websites
  • If you have seen a financial advert you consider to be misleading, read our free advice guide to complaining about financial ads.