ASA Adjudication on BIOlamps Ltd
Canal View Road
16 April 2008
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A direct mailing, for the BIOlamp, was headed "SPECIAL REPORT 'Use this unique Pain-Relief Lamp for 4 weeks - FREE OF CHARGE. And I guarantee it will relieve your pain ...' Now you can experience relief from almost any painful condition with BIOlamp, the 'Chinese National Treasure' that's safe, pain-free and easy to use". Inside the 12 page mailing it stated "... I knew first-hand just how effective they were at relieving my back pain. This was the inspiration for me to set up BIOlamps, the U.K.'s only licensed distributor of this unique product ... BIOlamp is only available from one company in the U.K. - ours ... Remember BIOlamp is only available from one company in the U.K. - ours". The mailing also included a number of testimonials, which stated " 'I got an ache in the sacral area of my lower back from sitting too long at the computer, so I aimed the lamp at my sacrum for 20 minutes. When I got up I found that every last trace of ache had gone ...', 'I have been suffering lower back pain for some time whereby when I get out of bed in the morning it is painful to raise to the standing position ... after two-weeks use there is hardly any discomfort in my lower back what-so-ever ...', 'I had sciatica and could do nothing but lie flat on my back. After using BIOlamp for three days ... my pain was completely gone', 'This lamp has been a lifesaver to me. I was repeatedly getting a trapped nerve with referred pain in the calf of the right leg. I have not had this now since the second week in March. It is wonderful to be able to walk (& dance) again' and 'I combine BIOlamp with massage therapy ... I have one patient who has found this combination treatment really helpful to such an extent that he played golf recently after suffering chronic back pain for over 4 years due to back injuries. Now he loves BIOlamp!' ".
1. A recipient believed the mailing was misleading because he understood that other UK companies sold the BIOlamp.
The ASA challenged:
2. whether the testimonials misleadingly implied efficacy for a number of physical conditions.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. BIOlamps said they were the only supplier of the BIOlamp in Europe. They said they supplied the product to other retailers and believed this may have been the reason the complainant thought other companies sold the BIOlamp.
2. BIOlamps provided us with the Declaration of Conformity (CE certificate) and Product Safety Certificate for the BIOlamp. They also sent copies of letters and customer satisfaction surveys, which formed the basis for the testimonials quoted in the mailing.
The ASA understood that BIOlamps was the only licensed distributor of the BIOlamp in Europe. We noted they sold the product directly to customers as well as supplying other retailers. However, we considered that the claims "BIOlamp is only available from one company in the U.K. - ours ..." and "Remember BIOlamp is only available from one company in the U.K. - ours ..." implied that the product could only be purchased through BIOlamps and was unavailable from other outlets. We considered that customers were likely to believe from the claims that the BIOlamp could only be purchased by responding to the mailing and concluded that it was likely to mislead.
On this point, the mailing breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).
We noted the ASA had investigated the efficacy of the product in 2005 and concluded that it was not proven to alleviate arthritic or joint pain. We were therefore concerned that BIOlamps had continued to make efficacy claims for the product.
We noted the BIOlamp was classified as a medical device and was CE marked indicating that the product met the requirements of the Medical Devices Directive. However, we considered that the claims based on testimonials, such as ... my pain was completely gone ...", ... I have not had this (pain) now since the second week in March. It is wonderful to be able to walk (& dance) again ..." and ... he played golf recently after suffering chronic back pain for over 4 years due to back injuries ...", implied the product could produce a lasting healing effect. Although we acknowledged that the testimonials were signed and dated, we considered that they did not constitute robust clinical evidence that the product could treat musculoskeletal and arthritic joint conditions and back pain as implied by the testimonials. We considered that the quotes represented customers opinions and, as we had not seen any independent supporting evidence, did not constitute substantiation for the efficacy of the BIOlamp. We concluded that the mailing was misleading.
On this point, the mailing breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 14.3 (Testimonials) and 50.1 (Scientific substantiation).
We told BIOlamps not to use the mailing again and to consult the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)