Code for medical cosmetic treatments performed by physicians
1. GENERAL TERMS
This advertising code applies to advertising medical cosmetic treatments performed by physicians and to advertising such treatments in clinics. The present Code does not affect the misleading advertising regulation as stated in Articles 7 and 8 of the general part of the Dutch Advertising Code, Advertising Code for advertising medicine to the general public (CPG), the Advertising Code for Self-Care Medical Products (CMH) and the articles in the Dutch Media Act on advertising, sponsoring and product placement of medical treatments.
The Code also applies to advertising of clinics where cosmetic treatments take place, or at least to the extent that it concerns advertising for medical cosmetic treatments as defined in the present Code. The Code exists next to current laws and regulations in the field of advertising medicines, medical treatments and (self-care) medical products and does not alter such laws and regulations. If under the current laws and regulations the advertising for the medical cosmetic treatment is allowed, then the advertising shall also meet the rules laid down in the present Code.
In the present Code the following will be understood to mean:
a. Advertising: advertising within the meaning of Article 1 Dutch Advertising Code
b. Minor: person under the age of 18 years
c. Medical cosmetic treatment: a treatment aimed at personal, health-related and aesthetic and/or functional care of the appearance performed by a physician.
2. RATIONAL USE OF ADVERTISING
Advertising which does not enhance use of a medical cosmetic treatment in a rational manner is not allowed. That is why it is prohibited: a. to include or suggest any form of time pressure; b. to carry out promotional campaigns imposing an obligation to buy or to be treated.
The advertising of medical cosmetic treatments shall aim primarily at proper information provision and quality. Offering gifts or any other available courtesies is exclusively allowed, if no obligation to buy or to be treated is imposed. Price offers are allowed as such, but shall not expose consumers to time pressure in any way, nor shall induce/incite consumers to excessive use or to undergo more treatments than necessary. It is allowed to state the selling price in the advertising, but not in a prominent manner, nor shall it be used as sole sales argument.
Advertising of medical cosmetic treatments shall not specifically target minors.
4. PROHIBITION ON MISLEADING
4.1 The advertising of medical cosmetic treatments shall involve an objective representation of the facts and shall not mislead.
The advertising of medical cosmetic treatments shall be truthful, shall not exaggerate their qualities and shall not, directly or indirectly, induce to unnecessary or excessive use of the treatments. The advertising shall not exaggerate or trivialise the results of a treatment. A claim like “cutting without scarring” is misleading and untruthful.
4.2 Advertising shall neither state nor suggest that a medical cosmetic treatment is without risks.
Each advertisement shall include an objective comment on all aspects of a medical cosmetic treatment, based on the risks and possible effects. The claims shall be clear and understandable to the average consumer.
4.3 No guarantee concerning the effect or result shall be given in advertising.
Claims like “ Money back guarantee”, “effectiveness guaranteed”, “you are guaranteed improved looks“ are not allowed.
4.4 Pictures are allowed, provided they are truthful and do not suggest that a specific body shape or a specific appearance is preferable. Visual material of persons who received a treatment shall not be used, save written permission of the person in question has been obtained.
In each advertisement concerning a medical cosmetic treatment the title, position and BIG registration number, or similar foreign registration number of the attending physician, shall be stated or if the specific form of advertising does not allow so, a reference shall be included to a website where the information about title, position and BIG registration number, or similar foreign registration number can be found. In case of advertising by a clinic, a reference to the website of the clinic where the title, position and BIG registration number, or similar foreign registration number of the attending physicians can be found is sufficient.
Purpose of this is to make the title, position and BIG registration number of the attending physician and/or his/her staff-members traceable in a completely transparent and accessible manner. The obligation also applies when using social media and websites both of individual medical practitioners and clinics. For instance, in the event of radio commercials, sponsoring, television or radio sponsoring, product placement, infomercials or cooperation of a physician in a news or educational program, it will not be possible to state the title, position and BIG registration number. In such cases, reference to the website of the physician or clinic suffices. In the event of advertising of an institution, reference to the website where the BIG registration numbers of the practitioners can be found is mandatory. However, on such website the title, position and BIG registration number of the attending physician should be easy to find. In the Netherlands, medical cosmetic treatments abroad (for instance in Belgian clinics) are promoted, but no BIG register exists abroad. In Belgium, the Rijksinstituut voor Ziekte- en Invaliditeitsverzekering (RIZIV), for instance, holds a similar register. In case of attending physicians located abroad, a registration similar to the BIG registration suffices.
6. SUBSTANTION OF CLAIMS
6.1 Claims regarding the effect and result of a medical cosmetic treatment shall be substantiated by adequate and verifiable evidence.
6.2 Acceptability of a claim shall be examined based on available study/ies, data, and other information, subject to the nature of the claim and common general knowledge of consumers. Studies shall be relevant to the claim made and must have been carried out according to methods duly set up and correctly applied (valid, reliable, reproducible).
6.3 Acceptability of a claim may also be substantiated by one or more statements of relevant experts based on information as stated in Article 6.2. Such a statement shall give insight into the manner in which the data were reviewed by the expert(s) and the relationship of the expert(s) with the advertiser. If the Advertising Code Committee finds the statement(s) inadequate or unconvincing, it may ask for further substantiation and/or order the advertiser to submit proof.
7.1 Testimonials and expert opinions shall meet Articles 9 and 10 of the Dutch Advertising Code and the Advertising Code for Social Media.
7.2 Testimonials of celebrities and consumers may be used, if it appears from such testimonials that they concern personal opinions and not the opinion of an independent expert. The testimonials shall always be an accurate reflection of the user experience.
7.3 Expert opinions shall only be used, if the expert has specific expertise and such expertise is relevant in relation to the statements by him or her.
8. USE OF MANDATORY SLOGAN AND LOGO
In each advertisement the following text (including associated logo; eye) shall be stated: “Watch out. Making yourself more beautiful may turn ugly. A successful intervention starts with an appropriate physician”. This text shall be stated in a clearly legible manner and in case of radio commercials, in a clearly audible manner. As to television commercials, the text should be visible during such time as allows consumers to read the text aloud.
9. SPECIAL FORMS OF ADVERTISING
Advertising forms like sponsoring (including television or radio sponsoring), product placement and infomercials are in principle allowed provided they concern objective information about all aspects of a medical cosmetic treatment, including the risks and possible effects and, as to the rest, this Code is complied with. In case of sponsoring (including television or radio sponsoring) or product placement Articles 5 and 8 of this Code do not have to be met.
These forms of advertising shall also meet the conditions laid down in the Dutch Media Act and the policy rules of the Commissariaat voor de Media (Dutch Media Authority). The exception of Articles 5 and 8 in case of sponsoring (including television or radio sponsoring) and product placement is due to the fact that the nature of this form of advertising is not suited for this, e.g. in case of shirt sponsoring, or the communication is being part of a program of a third party and the advertiser does not have full control of the communications, e.g. in case of television sponsoring and product placement. The credits in case of sponsoring and product placement are subject to legal conditions and compliance with the conditions of Articles 5 and 8 might be contrary to such conditions.
10. ENTRY INT EFFECT AND EVALUATION
This Code becomes effective on 15 October 2018 and will be evaluated after 2 years.