3.3.2. Health / Pharmaceutical claims

The prohibition involves first of all claims in relation to physical states which are classified as pathologies, dysfunctions or malformations by the medical science. However, the practical utility of Annex I, No 17 in relation to these practices is very marginal.

Food health claims referring to the prevention, the treatment or the cure of a human disease (e.g. "this food can prevent stomach cancer") are already prohibited at Community level by the legislation on the labelling of foodstuff[66]. Other health claims on foods can be authorised if they are scientifically substantiated[67].

Health claims are also covered by the health and pharmaceutical legislation (both EU and national), which regulates in an exhaustive and specific manner not only advertising but also the authorization regimes and the operators' deontological rules. It follows that only authorized traders are allowed to operate in these fields and market these types of products (which have been, in turn, scientifically tested and approved by the competent bodies).

It should be noted, in addition, that specific limits (i.e. bans) exist concerning the promotion of pharmaceuticals or medical treatments and that these activities concern mainly relations between professionals (traders and doctors or specialists). From a deontological perspective, the choice of the product / treatment rests on the advice of the doctor or specialist who prescribes it. Any issue of misleading advertising in this area (whether it concerns an authorized trader or not) will automatically trigger the relevant EU or national rules and be subject to the respective systems of enforcement and sanctions, which will take precedence over the Directive.


[66] Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, OJ L 109, 6.5.2000, p. 29. Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 2006/142/EC (OJ L 368, 23.12.2006, p. 110).

[67] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, OJ L 404, 30.12.2006, p. 9 - Corrigendum, OJ L 12, 18.1.2007, p. 3 (1924/2006). Regulation as last amended by Regulations (EC) No 107/2008 and 109/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 L 39 p.8 and p.14.

Links to articles of the Directive