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Google to ban ads promoting ‘speculative and experimental medical treatments’


Google is stepping up its efforts for reliability by introducing a new healthcare and medicines policy under its advertising policies on its platform. The new policy will ban advertising for any form of unproven or experimental medical techniques and curb the sale of potentially harmful treatments.

An illuminated Google logo is seen in Zurich. Image: Reuters

This new policy will prohibit the advertisement of treatments currently under research including most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy. Essentially, Google won’t allow ads of medical treatments that have insufficient formal clinical testing for now.

As reported by Engadget, this policy change arrived after online marketing ads of stem cell clinics appeared, claiming to treat people from joint pain, Alzheimer’s and other ailments. A quick look at the policy shows that Google will allow pharmaceutical manufacturers (certified by Google) to advertise only in selected countries across different type of items. For example, prescription drugs can only be promoted in Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Over-the-counter medicines can be served via ads in several countries including India.

The exhaustive policy goes on to list down unapproved substances that won’t be allowed to be promoted. It includes products containing ephedra, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) used for weight loss and many more. HIV home tests are also banned from being advertised except in France, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, the permitted countries will only be eligible if it meets local body regulatory requirements.

Google has assured that it will continue allowing advertisements of research being conducted for clinical trials and when researchers want to promote their findings to the public.

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