UNLAWFUL AND MISLEADING ADVERTS ON MEDICATION AND REMEDIES

4th Aprile 2020

To all radio, television and online broadcasters

The Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) refers to the above subject matter and the several notices, which the Commission and the National Drug Authority issued to broadcasters regarding advertisements, in particular, the advertisement of herbal and other medicines in contravention of the National Drug Authority Act, Cap 206 and the National Drug Policy and Authority (Control of Publication and Advertisements Relating to Drugs) Regulations Statutory Instrument No. 33 of 2014.

Further reference is made to sections 5(1)(x), 31 and Schedule 4 paragraph (a) of the Uganda Communications Act of 2013 which oblige broadcasters to ensure that all content broadcast on their platforms conforms to the set standards and is in compliance with all existing laws of Uganda.

The Commission recognises that medicines and medicinal products do have the potential for beneficial effects but can also be harmful if not used correctly. We also acknowledge the existence of alternative, integrative or complementary medicines. Still, We note that the use of these is associated with risks of adverse reactions due to poor products or inappropriate practices, and dangers related to a lack of proper medical follow up. All forms of advertising and promotion of any medicines and medicinal products, therefore, need to be responsible, ethical, and to the highest standard, to ensure their safe use.

Section 33 of National Drug Authority Act, Cap 206 provides that no person shall, by way of advertisement, publish, in whatever manner, in relation to any drug, descriptive matter calculated to lead to the use of that drug –

a) For prevention or treatment of any disease specified in the Fifth Schedule of the Act:

b) For the purpose of termination or influencing the course of human pregnancy,

c) For any purpose relating to enhancing human potency.

Diseases specified and listed under the 5th schedule of the National Drug Authority Act, Cap 206 include;

1) Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, soft chancre and any form of genitourinary disease or other diseases connected with human reproductive functions

2) Any of the following;-

Amenorrhea, Arteriosclerosis, Bladder stones, Blindness, Nephritis or Bright’s’ disease, Cancer, Cataract, Trachoma, Deafness, Diabetes, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Dropsy, Epilepsy or fits, Tetanus or Lockjaw, Erysipelas, Gallstones, Glaucoma, Goitre, Heart disease, Hernia or Rapture, Kidney stones, Leprosy, Locomotorataxy, Paralysis, Lupus, Pneumonia, Pleurisy, Poliomyelitis, Scarlet fever, Schistosomiasis, Septicaemia, Smallpox and any structural organic ailment of the auditory system.

In cognisance of the special and sensitive nature of medicine and other health care products, and in accordance with section 5(1)(x) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Commission developed advertising standards that among others require all advertisements and promotion of drugs, herbal and complementary medicines to be done only with the prior approval of the National Drug Authority.

All broadcasters are accordingly reminded to observe the above legal and license obligations and are directed to IMMEDIATELY STOP the broadcasting of any advertisement and programs that are intended to promote the use of any herbal or other medicines and remedies UNLESS the same has obtained prior approval from the National Drug Authority.

The Commission is assiduously monitoring compliance with this requirement and shall subject any broadcaster found in contravention of this to stern regulatory sanctions in accordance with section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act of 2013.

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