With the vaccine roll-out gaining momentum, and health-related topics getting more focus among Facebook users, the platform has today announced an update to its policies around the promotion of prescription medications, and the qualifications required for brands to run such campaigns.
As explained by Facebook:
"We have long required online pharmacies to go through a certification process before running ads on Facebook. Now we’re introducing additional pre-approval requirements for telehealth providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and online pharmacies who are looking to promote prescription drugs on our platforms."
As of August 25th, telehealth providers and online pharmacies will now be required to present written certification from third party certification provider Legitscript. Pharmaceutical manufacturers will also have to get pre-approval from Facebook prior to running ads promoting prescription drugs.
"Only pre-approved advertisers that fall into one of these three categories - online pharmacies, telehealth providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers - will be permitted to promote these products and they may only do so in the US, Canada or New Zealand. These ads must not target people under 18 years of age."
Social distancing regulations have seen a rise in telehealth usage, and consultations online, and as such, Facebook needs to update its policies in-line with these shifts, in order to ensure that it's protecting users from potential harm or manipulation.
In addition to this, Facebook has also clarified its policies around the use of medical efficacy, accessibility and affordability within related promotions.
"Rather than a single ad policy to cover a wide range of products, we will now have three distinct policies: promotion of online pharmacies, promotions of prescription drugs and promotion of unsafe substances."
Facebook says that this will better cover for variable use cases and instances, while also clearly establishing a distinction between the promotion of illicit drugs and other unsafe substances, and the restricted promotion of prescription drugs by approved advertisers.
It's a difficult area, but one that's clearly on the rise, and with more people looking for health advice and products, it's important for Facebook to ensure that it's not facilitating the promotion of deceptive or harmful treatments.
You can read more about Facebook's new rules around the promotion of prescription medications here.