Google updates policies to ban app supplement substance promotions

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Google has updated its developer policy that blocks apps promoting or selling ‘unapproved substances’ contained in food supplements as part of the search engine’s drive to encourage responsible innovation.

In a list​ that applies to Google’s Play division, the list outlines a number of banned supplements and pharmaceuticals as well as products related to weight loss and those that contain anabolic steroids.

The list also bans apps that promote or sell all products containing ephedra in a move that suggests Google are erring on the side of caution.

In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) joined many other global regulators in concluding the controversial herb ephedra and its extracts are unsafe in food supplements.

Marketed as a weight loss thermogenic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who banned the sale of supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids in 2004.

Ephedra extracts that do not contain the stimulant ephedrine have not been banned by the FDA and are commercially available in the US.

Google guidelines

As well as product lists, Google have included guidelines that ban herbal and dietary supplements with active pharmaceutical or dangerous ingredients or products with names that are confusingly similar to an unapproved pharmaceutical or supplement or controlled substance.

Other restrictions include products containing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in relation to weight loss or weight control, or when promoted in conjunction with anabolic steroids.

The guidelines also ban false or misleading health claims, including claims implying that a product is as effective as prescription drugs or controlled substances.

Non-government approved products that are marketed in a way that implies that they're safe or effective for use in preventing, curing, or treating a particular disease or ailment are also prohibited.

Finally, products that have been subject to any government or regulatory action or warning are not allowed.

In a similar list, the company also prohibits certain substances outlined in its advertising policy​ relevant to its Google ads online advertising platform.

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