Regulatory Requirements for Advertising

Only health products that Health Canada authorizes for sale in Canada may be advertised. Specific requirements exist for advertisements of prescription drugs to consumers.

Health Canada's Role

Health Canada is the national regulatory authority for health product advertisements. We:

  • Provide policies to effectively regulate marketed health products,
  • Put in place guidelines for the interpretation of the Regulations, and
  • Oversee regulated advertising activities.

Our department is committed to ensuring that information in a health product advertisement is not false, misleading or deceptive. We may intervene when an advertisement poses a significant safety concern, in the event that resolution is not achieved through the independent agencies' complaints mechanism, when a prescription drug is illegally advertised to the general public or when an unauthorized health product is promoted.

Who reviews advertisements?

Health product advertisements are reviewed and precleared by independent agencies. The List of Canadian Advertising Preclearance Agencies may be consulted for their contact information and roles.

  • Advertising material for nonprescription drugs and natural health products directed to consumers:
    • is reviewed and precleared by independent agencies that have publicly self-attested to meeting Health Canada's recommended attestation criteria.
  • Advertising material for all health products (excluding exempted natural health products) directed to health professionals:
    • is reviewed and precleared by the Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board (PAAB), an independent agency recognized by Health Canada.
  • Advisory opinions on messages directed to consumers for prescription drugs and on educational material discussing a medical condition/disease:
    • The PAAB, as well as Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), provide advisory opinions on messages directed to consumers for prescription drugs and on educational material discussing a medical condition/disease to ensure that they meet the regulatory requirements.

Stop Illegal Marketing of Drugs and Devices

Health Canada has launched a web-based platform titled Stop Illegal Marketing of Drugs and Devices to raise awareness about illegal marketing of drugs and medical devices, educate health care professionals on the rules governing health product advertising in Canada, as well as provide a quick and easy tool to report suspected misleading marketing practices to Health Canada.

What information can you find here?

In this section, you will find regularly updated information on regulatory advertising requirements, sources of assistance in meeting those requirements, as well as information about some of the projects that we are involved in.

Contact the Regulatory Advertising Section in Health Canada's Marketed Health Products Directorate:

Section of Transparency and Advertising Regulatory Surveillance
Marketed Health Products Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
Address Locator 1906C
Ottawa ON  K1A 0K9

Telephone: 613-793-6922
Teletypewriter : 1-800-465-7735 (Service Canada)

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