Good morning, I have a query with regard...

Asked by Robby on 11-09-2020 09:38:35
Question posted in the General Law category relating to KwaZulu-Natal

Good morning, I have a query with regards to the code of practice for marketing medical health products. 

As medical practitioners are not permitted to market themselves to the public to gain new patients I would like to know if it is legal for a treatment lab which medical practitioners are parters of is allowed to market itself where individuals such as surgeons are not promoted but rather the treatment lab?

ie we supply and market said therapy product which is licensed to labs around the country. Patients are able to go online and express interest in our therapy, which we then refer them to their nearest lab, there in being a lab which medical practitioners are the administrators of the therapy.

is this form of advertising and marketing permissible under SA laws?http://ipasa.co.za/Downloads/Ethics%20and%20Professional%20Practice/SA%20Code%20for%20marketing%20medicines%20110330.pdf

Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 11-09-2020 13:07:29

Hi there and thank you for your question,

I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.

My initial view is that by doing this you would be breaching the Code of Practice for the Marketing of Health products in South Africa.

If I understand you correctly, you want to market your medical services directly to members of the public. 

The operation of the Code is very wide and covers all registered health products licence holders, their agents, contractors, third party distributors/marketers and/or contracted events organisers. (2.2.1.1) 

The code also includes all advertising and/or promotional material, which is directed to members of the public to inform the general public about the health products available for self medication. 

But I don't think that you are selling health products. i.e. medicines?

Surely you want to advertise the actual treatment (a service) to members of the public? In that instance, would you not look at the revised HPCSA ethical rules?

Rule 3 says that a practitioner shall be allowed to advertise his or her service provided the advert is not unprofessional, untruthful, deceptive or misleading or causes consumers unwarranted anxiety that they may be suffering from any health condition.

The rest of the rule (which you've alluded to) says that a practitioner shall not canvass or tout or allow canvassing or touting to be done for patients on his/her behalf.

Are you not indirectly touting for work on behalf of practitioners? If so, this would be an issue and a breach of the revised HPCSA ethical rules.

If you were simply advertising your treatment, that should be fine. But as soon as you refer a patient to a medical practitioner, that's touting ...

If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.

Att. Patrick

Please remember this is a dialog if you have follow up questions please use the REPLY button and ask. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered. I hope you found my answer helpful, and you have finished asking your questions, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button in order to mark the question as closed.

Information provided by client

Thanks Patrick, in that case if it did not lead to a referral but rather based on educating people on the therapy and where available would this be permissible?

Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 11-09-2020 20:17:21

Yes, education is a good example of what is allowed. 

Answer Accepted

This answer was accepted on 12-09-2020 06:58:52

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