CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

UAE Health Advertisements Regulation Could Challenge Industry

The new UAE Health Advertisements Regulation provides the health care industry with sweeping regulatory language regarding health care advertising. The Regulation, enacted by the United Arab Emirates Cabinet via Cabinet's Resolution NO. (7) of 2007 Regarding Health Advertisements Regulation, has as its purpose: "This Regulation aims at controlling the medical products advertisements to make sure that such advertisement is not misleading or arousing an unnecessary desire to use medical products, and that the advertised or promoted medical products do not harm the public health."

Under the law, all those wishing to advetise medical products require a license to be issued by the Ministry of Health.

Some of the requirements include:

 The advertisement license's applicant shall comply with Federal Laws in force within UAE.

 The advertisement shall include only correct and balanced announcements.

 The advertisement shall not cause any prejudice to UAE customs or Islamic values.

 The advertisement shall not include whatsoever harm towards third parties' products or facilities.

 The advertisement shall not include exaggeration and alarming expressions such as: "unique - incomparable - unprecedented - best product - beware of imitations - etc."

 The advertisement's announcement shall not use mislead expressions such as "very limited quantity - seize the opportunity" and such other similar expressions.

 The advertisement shall not hurt the public moral.

 The advertisement shall not include matters misleading public opinion. The content thereof shall be genuine and sincere without implying any construction or interpretation.

 The advertisement shall not include incitement for non-guaranteed and non-genuine expectations concerning the product's effectiveness.

 The advertisement shall not lead to inappropriate auto-diagnosis or treatments of possible consumers' serious diseases.

 The advertisement shall not mislead directly, or by means of indication, confirmation, comparisons, contradictions, or omissions.

 The advertisement shall not misuse the consumers' confidence, use their knowledge, or contain a language that could cause fright or adversity.

 The advertisement shall not contain any matter that could make persons believing that they are suffering from serious diseases, or that harmful consequences could result from unused medical products. Sun protection preparations, if the advertisement's claims comply with actual health messages, are excluded here from.

 The advertisement shall not encourage inappropriate or excessive consumption.

 The advertisement shall not contain whatsoever pretense, announcement, or indication stating that the products' success is definite, veracious, magic, miraculous, or are a certain, guaranteed, and confirmed treatment.

 The advertisement shall not contain any pretense, announcement, or indication stating that the products are safe, and using thereof shall not cause any harm, or do not bear side effects.

 The advertisement shall not aim at minors.

 Advertisements shall not present any personal motivation in favor of any pharmacist assistant, or such other retailer not specialized in health care, to recommend or import pharmaceutical products.
The Cabinet Resolution is followed by a resolution promulgated by the the UAE Ministry of Health, MINISTERIAL RESOLUTION NO. (430) OF 2007 REGULATING HEALTH ADVERTISEMENT. In it, among other things, medical product is defined as: "Whatever manufactured, or related or linked to human health, including medicine and drugs, herbal and nutritious medications and additives, beauty centers, medical equipment and accessories, medical institutions, medicine practitioners including doctors and technicians, traditional or alternative medical treatment methods." And there are both specific and ambiguous requirements and limitations on medical product advertising, including:

The requirements to obtain advertisement licensing for a medical product are as follows:



1. It shall not breach the country laws and regulations in general, especially those related to prints and publishing or to practice of medicine or to some medical professions by non-doctor and pharmacists and the law of practicing pharmacology and pharmaceutical establishments and the law of private health establishments stated in this law.

2. Advertisement shall contain true and balanced statements.

3. It must not contradict with UAE customs and traditions nor the Islamic principles.

4. It shall not cause damage to a 3rd party's products or facilities.

5. To avoid overstatements and exaggeration i.e. the sole the unique - far cry - best product - beware of imitation ...etc.

6. The advertisement text should not be misleading, i.e. limited stock - hurry and grab this opportunity ...etc.

7. It should not cause harm to public decency.

8. It should not deceive the public opinion and must include genuine facts and contents.

9. It should not stimulate untrue expectations with regard to the product.

10. It must not lead to improper self diagnosis or treatment for the consumer's serious illness.

11. Should not be implicitly or explicitly misleading.

12. Not to misuse the consumer trust and knowledge.

13. Not to contain any suggestions to consumers that serious consequences shall occur if they do not use the medical product, except for sun proof compositions.

14. Not to warn against a rival product licensed in the UAE.

15. Not to encourage excessive or unsuitable consumption.

16. It should be free from any claim, statements or suggestion that it is surely successful, credible, magic and miraculous or it offers granted treatment.

17. It should not contain any obligation, statement or suggestion that it is a safety product or it will cause no harm and without side effects.

18. Should not be addressing the minors.

19. The advertisement should not offer personal incentive to any pharmacist assistant or retail sales person who is not specialized in health care, in order to recommend supply of pharmaceutical products.

20. The scientific information presented in the advertisement should be accurate, balanced and undeceiving.

21. The scientific expressions must be clear, suitable and understandable to the public. Research published results should reveal the researcher's and the financial sponsor's identities.

22. The comparison between pharmaceutics and medical products in the advertisement must be balanced without deluding suggestions, comparison aspects should be factual and reflect the scientific evidence.

23. Advertisement may mention the product sponsor if he is working in the field of general health and openly approves his sponsorship.

24. Advertisements may bear the health care specialist approval or the approval of any health body authorized in the UAE, provided that the advertisement should present written approval.

25. Evidences and certificates should be correct, duly attested and legitimately obtained.

26. Samples should not be presented in the advertisement (except for medical equipment and anti-sun beam compositions).

27. The advertisement must feature:

Credibility: Advertisement should show the nature, quality and attribute of the medical products.

Evidence: All claims that appear in the advertisement must be proofed scientifically.

Accuracy: Recommendations related to the use of medical products must be accurate.

Comparison: Recommendations should contain comparison with other products, unless they are scientifically proven.

- Undistinguished use: Advertisement shall not directly or indirectly encourage undistinguished, unnecessary or excessive use of medical product.

- Use of scientific data: Advertisement shall not trade on the unawareness of the public by entering the scientific data which they cannot verify.

- Fear and superstition : Advertisements must not provide panic amongst the public.

- Language : Advertisements must be simple and easy to understand. Confusing medical terms must be avoided.

- Research results shall not be abused by only extracting the parts which conceal other facts or by quotation from the technical and scientific bulletin.

- Jargon and unrelated scientific facts shall not be used.

- Price refund: Advertisement shall not offer refund of price to the dissatisfied user.

- Empirical use: Advertisement shall not suggest experimental use of medical products.

- Pregnant or suckling women: Advertisement must not recommend or suggest medical products of or this category.

- Testimony: Only specialists testimonies are to be accepted.

- Logos, initials and trademarks: The advertisement shall not contain any logo, initials or trademark for any party unless his written approval is obtained.

- Ordinary Lifestyle: Advertisers shall not give the impression that the normal lifestyle requires the use or consumption of a specific medical product.

- Stress : Advertisers must not claim that the use of a certain medical product is essential for living within modern life pressures.

- Sport and educational performance : Advertisements should not suggest that a certain medical products use will enhance sportive or educational performance.

- Cure : Advertisements should not include words or phrases claiming or suggesting cure of disease or illness other than alleviation of pain or symptoms.
Further, the UAE Ministry of Health, Health Advertisement Department has issued a 74-page interpretration of the above, which includes conferences and workshops as venues in which the prohibitions regarding health advertisement may apply.
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The Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on holistic, alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The law firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians, massage therapists, and acupuncturists), entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational organizations, health care institutions, and individuals and corporations.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of a nonprofit organization exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, energy healing, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. Michael H. Cohen is author of books on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy dealing with complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, including Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).
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Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C. In addition to qualifying as a U.S. attorney, he has been admitted and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information regarding the law practice of attorney Michael H. Cohen, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Thank you for visiting the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.
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