Adverts promoting over-the-counter treatments for erectile dysfunction and incontinence in women could be on TV by the end of the year, following the government’s relaxation of the OTC medicine advertising rules.

The move is also expected to encourage manufacturers to switch more products from prescription-only control to over-the-counter sale.

The liberalising move by the Department of Health adds 13 diseases to the list of areas that can currently be advertised directly to the public. As well as cardiovascular and bone diseases, the list includes: diseases of the liver, the stomach, menstrual disorders and obesity, genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, and conditions such as long-term asthma and skin disorders such as psoriasis.

Proprietary Association of Great Britain chief executive Sheila Kelly said: “As more medicines move from prescription control, it is essential that they can be advertised to the public."

The changes will not come into effect until the government and industry can agree guidelines for advertisers and information for retailers.