Following Australian media outlets incorrectly reporting on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Social Media Guide, creators and brands alike are demanding clarity. Here’s what that updated TGA code actually means, and how it might affect you.
Australian influencer marketing body, AiMCO has clarified confusion around the updated TGA code, stating, “Recent media reports have incorrectly indicated that: ‘influencers won’t be paid for posts advertising: skincare, sunscreens, protein powders, vitamins, supplements, skincare for acne, medicines, and skin lightening products.”
However, the updated TGA code does not ban the promotion of these items by influencers, rather this brings the rules for influencers in line with all advertising for therapeutic goods; influencers fall under the same long standing TGA requirements as other advertising formats. The key consideration with regard to the application of the code hinges on the interpretation of endorsement versus testimonials.”
What this means is that Australian influencers can still promote therapeutic goods, so long as their advertisement aligns with the updated TGA code, and doesn’t contain a testimonial about their personal experience with the therapeutic product.
Endorsement vs testimonial: What’s the difference?
As per the TGA: “A testimonial is made where an individual has testified to the outcomes they experienced from the use of the therapeutic good. An endorsement, on the other hand, is made where an individual approves of a particular therapeutic good, but there is no indication as to the outcomes from the use of the good.1
There are restrictions on who can provide testimonials to be used in advertising. This restriction is to ensure that testimonials are genuine and not motivated by payment or an interest in the sale of the good, such as a person involved in the production, marketing, or supply of therapeutic goods.” The TGA now considers influencers to be part of the marketing of therapeutic goods, hence the update to this code. “Furthermore, influencers being paid or gifted with products to advertise a therapeutic good would not be considered a genuine testimonial.”2
Advertisers have until June 30 2022 to adopt the current code, which requires all testimonials that are in breach of the code to be taken down by July 1 2022.
Moving forward, we’ve put together this mini guide with information directly from the TGA and Department of Health. This guide has been created to direct Australian influencers and brands to the correct sources of information about what a therapeutic product is.
Knowing whether a product falls under ‘cosmetics’ or ‘therapeutic goods’, is an important determining factor and will affect how you can advertise it.
Let’s get into the differences.
What makes a product therapeutic?
Not all products on the market that claim to have health benefits are actually therapeutic goods. And in order for a therapeutic product to be sold in Australia, it needs to be authorised3 by the TGA.
To determine whether or not a product is therapeutic, the product needs to fall under the following categories, according to the TGA:
- “Prevents, diagnoses, cures or alleviates a disease, ailment, defect or injury.
- Influences, inhibits or modifies a physiological process.
- Tests the susceptibility of persons to a disease or ailment.
- Influences, controls or prevents conception.
- Tests for pregnancy.
This includes things that are:
- Used as an ingredient or component in the manufacture of therapeutic goods.
- Used to replace or modify parts of the anatomy.
The TGA also regulates what are known as other therapeutic goods (OTGs), which include items such as tampons and disinfectants.”4 Learn more about what a therapeutic good is.
Some of these sound like cosmetics. So what is a cosmetic product?
As per the Department of Health, “A cosmetic product is a substance designed to be used on any external part of the body – or inside the mouth – to change its odour or appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition or protect it.”5
This includes many cosmetic products for your body, face, nails, hair, mouth, and more. Read the full list of products.
Some products that sound like therapeutic goods, such as lipstick and lip balms with SPF sunscreen, anti-dandruff hair care products, secondary sunscreen products, and anti-acne skin care products are actually considered cosmetics if they comply with the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination, 2018.6
I still don’t know if a product is a therapeutic good. What should I do?
If you’re not 100% sure whether or not a product is a therapeutic good, you should speak directly to the brand and ask them for more information about their product. A brand should be responsible for providing their creators with all the information they need about their product. Including what you can and cannot claim about that product.
Thankfully, this process is made easy with Vamp’s briefing tool and chat function.
We require all of our clients to fill in a brief that provides you with everything you need to know about their brand and products before you even decide to apply to work with them. Our briefing tool also includes a ‘Dos and Don’ts’ section, where the brand must provide you with everything you can and cannot say about their product or service.
Our chat function then allows you to directly speak to the brand to discuss the campaign or your content, or to ask them any outstanding questions you may have during the campaign process.
Information sourced from:
- TGA – Advertising to the public
- TGA – Guidance on applying the Advertising Code rules
- TGA – A summary of supplying therapeutic goods in Australia
- TGA – What are ‘therapeutic goods’?
- Department of Heath – Cosmetics and therapeutics
- TGA – Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination 2018 and Department of Heath – Cosmetics and therapeutics