Tough new laws on healthcare advertising in Portugal

 

Portugal has brought in tough new laws on healthcare advertising affecting businesses that provide or advertise healthcare within and outside Portugal that target Portuguese citizens.

All advertising by principals or agents must be transparent, reliable and legal. From November 2015, Decree Law 238/2015 establishes a new legal regime on health advertising practices.

This new legal framework aims to govern the advertising practices on interventions related to the protection and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of diseases, including offering diagnosis and any treatments or therapies, including all unconventional therapies.

Health advertising includes any commercial communication, telemarketing, tele promotion, practice, or product placement. The rules apply to those providing care and any agents or information services that offer information on healthcare services including the protection and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of disease.

The law establishes a set of prohibited health advertising practices, but it also foresees the general principles that these practices shall comply with, namely transparency, reliability and legality, objectivity and scientific rigor.

The existing general rules on advertising practices under the Advertising also still apply to all health advertising.

The law applies to all stakeholders, whether public or private, that benefit from or participate in the conception or diffusion of health advertising to actual or potential consumers.

The effect is that any business offering any form of healthcare to actual or potential Portuguese customers must comply with the new laws. This includes free information services and paid agents.

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