Organisations offering Kenalog as a hay fever treatment have been warned to stop advertising the drug online, as it must not be directly or indirectly advertised to the public.

The warning has been made via a joint enforcement notice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). 

Kenalog, a prescription-only steroid injection, is not licensed to treat hay fever in the UK. However, some pharmacies and beauty and aesthetic clinics offer Kenalog to hay fever sufferers under the personal responsibility of the prescriber, and some of these organisations advertise the service widely on social media.

The notice said all references to Kenalog being offered as a hay fever injection must be removed from social media by 29 August 2022.

After this date, all advertisements that do not comply to the ruling will be removed by CAP using targeted software and may be referred to the MHRA for enforcement action.

Claire Tilstone, head of advertising at MHRA, said that the advertising of prescription-only medicines in the UK is banned under advertising law and urged clinics to stop advertising the drug.

'We would urge anyone who sees a clinic advertising it, to report it either to the MHRA or the Advertising Standards Authority, and always to consult a qualified healthcare professional to discuss options for hayfever treatment,' she said.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, added that the rules apply across all media, but there is particular concern about the prevalence of Kenalog injection advertising on social media. 'We will proactively monitor and take enforcement action against any advertiser who does not stick to the rules so there is a level playing field for businesses and consumers are protected.'

While Kenalog is not licensed in the UK for the treatment of hay fever, a prescriber can make a professional decision to prescribe it to meet the specific clinical needs of their patient.

They do this on their own personal responsibility and the patient must be made aware of any risks of using the unlicensed drug.

This comes after more than 285,000 illegally traded medicines and medical devices valued at over £850,000 have been seized by the MHRA.