When a Retweet is Considered Promotional, MHRA Takes Action
Posted 24 May 2019 | By
Companies’ promotional use of social media can run afoul of regulators, even if it’s just the promotion of another account’s post, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reaffirmed Friday.
MHRA took issue with OTC pharmaceutical manufacturer Thornton & Ross for retweets of third-party content referring to the company’s cough syrup Covonia. MHRA said the retweets “constituted promotional material and therefore should include the statutory information necessary for the correct use of a medicine.”
Although those retweets have since been deleted, this is the second time the @covoniauk Twitter account, which has about 700 followers, spurred a rebuke from MHRA.
In 2018, Johnson & Johnson complained about Covonia social media accounts, and MHRA took action on a third-party tweet that Thornton & Ross commented on. MHRA said
that although the tweet from the person’s Twitter account “did not itself recommend the products shown but MHRA considered that the action of Thornton and Ross in commenting on the person’s use of Covonia products in an advertisement constituted an implied recommendation.”
Most of the Covonia Twitter posts currently include the caption, “Read The Label,” at the bottom of a promotional picture.
MHRA’s Blue Guide
on advertising and promotion of medicines also explains how to include information necessary for the correct use of a medicine: “There should be a clear and legible invitation to read carefully the instructions on the leaflet contained within the package or on the label as the case may be. A reference to the label alone should be made only where no leaflet is provided or where the label carries a clear and specific instruction to refer to the enclosed leaflet.”