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Lloyds erectile dysfunction ad prompts ASA investigation

The Advertising Standards Agency is concerned that the multiple has advertised prescription-only medicines

Lloydspharmacy is under investigation by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over concerns the company has advertised prescription-only medicines.

A newspaper advert for Lloydspharmacy's erectile dysfunction service, titled "lost the perk-in your gherkin", showed a picture of a drooping skyscraper next to an offer for a £6 pill that could be bought online. It is being looked at by the ASA's compliance team, the watchdog told C+D last week (December 13).

Lloydspharmacy had not been contacted by the ASA regarding the advert, a spokesperson for its parent company Celesio UK told C+D last week.

The advert, which appeared in London's Evening Standard in November, was brought to the ASA's attention by pharmacist Cathryn Brown, who believed it was "essentially an advert for a prescription-only medicine".

"It's a valuable thing to highlight awareness that there are treatments available for erectile dysfunction and you don't have to go to your GP. But advertising it on the basis of price per tablet doesn't imply a professional service," she told C+D.

Llloydspharmacy's advertisement for its erectile dysfunction service included an offer for a £6 pill that could be bought online

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The ASA responded to Ms Brown last month, saying she had a "valid point" and there seemed to be a "clear issue" with the advert breaching advertising regulations. It had passed the case to its committee of advertising practice compliance team, the ASA said in an email seen by C+D.

"The team will work to address the problem and ensure these ads, where they appear to advertise prescription-only medicines rather than the service generally, no longer appear," the ASA said.

Under section 12.12 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, prescription-only medicines and prescription-only medical treatments cannot be advertised to the public.

In September, medicines watchdog the MHRA upheld a complaint that Lloydspharmacy had been promoting prescription-only erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil by email. At the time, Lloydspharmacy admitted it had unintentionally sent an email about sildenafil pricing to customers who had previously ordered "various medicines" for erectile dysfunction.

Do you think that Lloyds has breached the medicines advertising rules?

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Paul Reader, Non healthcare professional

Commenting here doesn't achieve a great deal. The Advertising Standards Authority is easily contactable online. Much better to tell them.

Emmanuel Chisadza, Community pharmacist

A quick look at the Lloyds and Pharmacy2U online doctor and private prescription websites shows images and prices for products like Viagra. Would that be classed as advertising as well?

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

* This comment has been removed for legal reasons, C+D

Amal England, Public Relations

Advertising a pill for £6 direct to the public- yes there maybe an issue and some slight chance of putting a very small number of people at minimal risk. This pales into insignificance the danger posed by many of the premises and and lack of regard towards staffing. But hey [agencies/ professional organisations] let's just ignore that.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

I remember when I worked for them and they sold, sorry- 'prescribed by an online doctor via a questionaire', multi packs of levonelle for people going away. I can't remember exactly what happened but I remember getting an e-mail saying that they had a lot of complaints but that we were to dispense it if we were sent one!!!!!

Super Locum,

Can this company sink any lower?

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

as profits are drooping,
to a new low,Lloyds are stooping,
although there is stiff competition,
one has to mind reputation,
the superintendent must be feeling like a ****,
this time he missed a trick

Any pharmacists who wish to make complaints to the ASA about inappropriate advertising, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so.

You can find information and guidance on making a complaint at The Nightingale Collaboration's website:

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

As far as I can see, the issue with the ad, from a professional point of view, is that it a) appears to promote a POM and b) does so with the incentive if a £10 discount. Looks like the marketing boys managed to side-step the superintendent before that went to press. Apart from that, thought it quite witty

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Stephen, you mean you hope it side-stepped the Superintendent!
It would be very interesting to see that he signed this off!!

Cod Fillet, Community pharmacist

Lloydspharmacy ? Couldn't see that coming.

Pankaj Sodha, Community pharmacist

Disappointed that such breaches are committed for commercial gain

Well done to Cathryn for bringing this ad to the attention of the ASA.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I've seen this advert on the train lines thinking how inappropriate to be advertising about men's genitals in a public setting.

Siraj Mohammed, Community pharmacist

its also advertised in the Metro newspaper in the Greater Glasgow region. This should be reported aswell to the ASA asap. illegal.

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