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Online pharmacy's erectile dysfunction campaign 'banned' on social media

An online prescription service has said that a public health campaign it launched on erectile dysfunction has been “banned by Facebook and Instagram”.

Online prescription service UK Meds today (July 20) said that its ‘#HardTalk’ campaign to raise awareness about erectile dysfunction has been “banned by Facebook and Instagram”.


The “highly impactful” public health campaign “aims to shed light on the prevalent issue of erectile dysfunction among men and in particular millennials”, it said.


It features two “thought-provoking sculptures designed by artists, representing the male reproductive system using bananas and walnuts”, it added.


Read more: P med erectile dysfunction drug to be sold from Boots pharmacies


The “symbolism underscores the alarming statistic” that one in two men (51%) are “either currently experiencing erectile dysfunction or are at risk of developing it during their lifetime”, the online service said.


It remains unclear on what grounds the campaign was banned.


C+D approached Facebook and Instagram for comment.



“Disheartening”



UK Meds claimed that “the decision by Facebook and Instagram to ban UK Meds' campaign raises questions about the platform's commitment to promoting comprehensive healthcare discussions”.


It added that the social media giants’ advertising policies “seem to hinder rather than facilitate such conversations” despite the campaign’s “important aim of breaking the stigma surrounding erectile dysfunction and encouraging individuals to seek appropriate medical support”.


"It is disheartening to see Facebook and Instagram impede vital discussions about men's health,” UK Meds GP Dr Alexis Missick said.


Read more: Former online pharmacy left GPhC register due to ‘over-regulation’


He claimed that the social media platforms are “inadvertently discouraging men from seeking help and understanding this sensitive health concern” by “stifling conversations and limiting the reach of campaigns like 'Hard Talk'”.


The incident shows that “big tech is restricting dialogue on important men’s health issues” and “raises concerns” about the platforms’ “reluctance to facilitate open discussions on crucial men's health problems, including erectile dysfunction”, UK Meds said.


“Erectile dysfunction is a legitimate medical issue that requires attention and open dialogue, and it is crucial for social media platforms to enable such discussions instead of suppressing them,” it added.


Read more: MHRA reclassifies erectile dysfunction tablets for OTC pharmacy purchase

It acknowledged that social media channels have “policies in place to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, including guidelines related to healthcare and sexually suggestive content”.


But it warned that it is “essential for platforms of this magnitude to strike a balance between responsible advertising and supporting public health initiatives”.

 

UK Meds “remains committed to advocating for men's health” and will “explore alternative avenues” to raise awareness and encourage open conversations about erectile dysfunction, it said. 


Read more: Viagra Connect sales soar following pharmacy launch

It comes as Boots announced last month that erectile dysfunction treatment Cialis Together would be available to buy without a prescription from its pharmacies within days.


In March, C+D reported that Cialis Together tablets had been reclassified by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) from a prescription-only medicine (POM) to a pharmacy-only (P) medicine.


Meanwhile, C+D revealed in 2022 that UK Meds had decided to voluntarily remove itself from the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) register due to “over-regulation” and “lack of support” from the regulator.


UK Meds came under scrutiny in 2018, when a BBC investigation highlighted that one former opiate addict was able to order 100 dihydrocodeine tablets for £49.95 plus delivery costs from the company, while another ordered 56 capsules of 300mg pregabalin – a drug the BBC claimed is becoming “increasingly abused” – for £59.95.


The GPhC told C+D at the time that it was “considering concerns” raised about UK Meds.


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