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Prescription Medicine Ads Pulled?

     
9:37 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Credible sources have said that prescription medicine ads have been pulled from MSN.co.uk.

The reason being given, is that advertising of prescription medication is illegal in the UK.

(pdf) British Code of Advertising Practices [cap.org.uk] Section 50.12 states:

Prescription-only medicines may not be advertised to the public. Health-related claims in advertisements and promotions addressed only to the medical, dental, veterinary and allied professions are exempt from the Codes.

How far and wide this will range is unknown, but it looks like there are some powerful hands moving this forward, and other engines will likely follow suit.

We are looking for further comfirmations and info.

9:40 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Wonder what will happend to popular keywords on Overture and Google etc.
10:07 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It's an interesting one to wonder what constitutes an "advert" in this case. MSN UK's search results are still certainly showing their Overture-fed Top 3 "ads" for various popular prescription medicines that are known to be available online.

Can a "paid-for" listing (such as a PPC listing) when one does a search be classified as an advert? If this is deemed to be the case, how would one classify the normal indexing process? ie a search for "prescription only widgets" will bring up SERPs that feature sites selling "prescription only widgets" - is this an ad?

3:41 pm on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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MSN featured listings have been pulled, as they are under direct control of MSNuk.

Sponsored sites is provided by Overture as most of us know.

Personally I think that all the others will be following suit in the next few weeks.

Shak

4:04 pm on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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From the recent experiences of certain people I know who have been involved in the promotion of these kind of prescription only drugs sites, I would have to agree with you Shak regarding future "advertising" through the major search engines.

It still seems to me to be a little strange that the actual Featured Ad sites have been removed while allowing the Overture ads to remain as it's presumably an attempt to put the onus on Overture to put its own house in order while denying any responsibility for promoting their adverts. Got to be a few arguments on both sides over this issue.

Even more recently I know that some of these "prescription only widgets" sites have been doing tremendously well out of their PPC advertising that coincided with the launch of a new kind of Super Widget in the UK.

Seems as if manufactured hay will be in short supply imminently, though, as the Sun may already have set and be slowly sinking into the dark.

4:09 pm on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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regarding future "advertising" through the major search engines.
=======================================================

I think future advertising of "Any Kind" and NOT just limited to search engines.

I know 1 of the lawyers dealing with 1 of the cases is a reader/member of Webmasterworld, however I doubt we can expect any comments, as there may be legal proceedings which will follow.

Shak

3:50 pm on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My sources inform me that Espotting are currently assesing their position in relation to this matter and will probably be making a decision sometime next week.

Shak

ish

10:49 pm on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It will be interesting to see how far this goes.

Does the law stop with the search engines, or are the 'prescription only drugs sites' themselves another form of illegal advertising?

5:35 pm on Feb 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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To my knowledge, a prescription-only drugs site selling to the public is illegal if the site is based in the UK. There was an interesting discussion on this issue on BBC Radio 5 Live last week, concerning sites selling Viagra.

[bbc.co.uk ]

4:40 pm on Feb 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Two weeks later, the rest of the world catches up with us:

[theregister.co.uk...]
[revolutionmagazine.com...]

7:59 pm on Feb 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Has anybody seen a list of the medicines?

Be useful to know what is/isn't allowed for future work...

8:01 pm on Feb 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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ALL precription only medicines, and I mean ALL.

Shak

12:30 am on Feb 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So what's new? Illegal or semi-illegal activities are usually optimized sites in any case. More work for optimizers, no need for adwords ppc etc.

No scrupple optimizers maybe a wind-fall, please.......no spiel about google not allowing!

It is the usual case of the bureaucrats in the UK "trying to be seen as doing the right thing" when they in actual fact do not care a toss, because they have done their job, and wash their hands of the problem.

Of course the easy option as always, and their beloved public realise what a wonderful job they do.

7:25 am on Feb 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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This is going to really mess about with a number of company business-models that's for sure.

However, I would be interested to know thoughts about filling the void. There will always be a market for products such as Viagra and Xenical because there are a great number of people who are to embarrassed or ashamed to walk up to the counter. Will this move by the engines remove the "dodgy dealers" leaving a more certified or "Government-approved" doorway for companies to be registered and licenced?

1:32 pm on Feb 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Wonder what will happend to popular keywords on Overture and Google etc.

-- they will be snatched up by the "herbal" copycats most probably.

5:21 pm on Feb 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Does this affect US merchants and their affiliates too?
7:21 am on Feb 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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There will always be a market for products such as Viagra and Xenical because there are a great number of people who are to embarrassed or ashamed to walk up to the counter.

That's true, but being able to just 'get them from the counter' means they're not prescription drugs. You have to get a prescription from a doctor to get prescription drugs.

I'm not 100% sure on this, but I believe importing prescription drugs into the UK is illegal.

Advocating that some embarassed guy in the UK should have the right to import viagra is no different to saying he should be able to import steroids, simply because they're available as a prescription drug, and he's too 'embarassed to get them from a doctor.'

That said.. is viagra actually a prescription drug in the UK?

8:57 am on Feb 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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That's true, but being able to just 'get them from the counter' means they're not prescription drugs. You have to get a prescription from a doctor to get prescription drugs.

People do get them over the counter, but getting them requires a prescription without which the drugstore won't sell them. So they are really prescription drugs.

1:12 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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wackybrit - yes it is.
9:44 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Espotting have also decided to pull out of Prescription Medicines and will be removing advertisers over the next few days.

Shak

4:21 pm on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Top Results in the SERPS will show them, Good chance for you SEO's

aek

10:34 pm on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Looks like Espotting have pulled the ads now, I wonder if Adwords will follow suit?
6:44 pm on Mar 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Yep all gone - there will be some serious loss of cash for a few of the big boys.

I am pretty sure they'll all follow suit very quickly!

1:24 am on Mar 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

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AdWords US are also reviewing these ads in response to what happened in the UK.
12:33 pm on Mar 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Google.co.uk are still showing Adwords and Sponsored links for many prescription ads - surely they will have to pull these soon?