The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that TV advertising for Pharmacy2U was misleading.
The TV adverts that aired last December featured a voice-over stating that moving to online repeat prescription medicines could save the NHS over £300m a year.
Despite Pharmacy2U providing calculations showing a breakdown of the volume of pharmaceutical items that were dispensed by the NHS each month and a statement from an individual who was previously in a senior leadership role within the Department of Health who agreed with the £300m figure, the ASA ruled that the adverts must not appear again in their current form.
"We did not consider that Pharmacy2U had substantiated that the NHS would currently save £300 million per year or more, if a significant proportion of the population switched from paper to online repeat prescription services such as theirs. We therefore concluded that the claims “Saving… the NHS over £300 million a year on prescription costs” and “better for the NHS” were misleading and had not been substantiated," the ruling stated.
An NPA spokesperson commented: “We welcome the ASA’s verdict which acknowledges our concerns about the misleading claims made by Pharmacy2U in their advertising.
“People’s choices about where to obtain their NHS medicines ought not to be skewed by misleading and unsubstantiated claims.
“Neither should local community pharmacies be put at a disadvantage by such advertisements.
“At heart, this is about informed choice for patients and fairness for all pharmacies.
“The ASA ruling is a clear vindication of the NPA’s position, upholding our view that Pharmacy2U’s claims were misleading and unsubstantiated and telling them not to run the ads again.”