ASA Adjudication on Healthy for Life
Healthy for Life
P.O. Box 216
2 July 2008
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A brochure from Healthy for Life featured a number of products:
1. Caisse Plus. Text stated "Essiac - For All Your Cancer Concerns … It helps boost the spirit, ease pain and in most cases reduce or eliminate tumours …"
2. Beres Drops. Text stated "Overcoming Cancer & Other Serious Health Concerns … At the end of one year 29.8% were 100% cured and 51.1% had tumours regressed to the point that they were almost complaint-free. The treatment also stopped hair loss, impotence, allergy and the nausea induced by chemotherapy and radiation … All the following diseases have found Beres Drops Plus successful:- fatigue, insomnia, headaches, anaemia, hormonal disorders, Hodgkin's disease, asthma, bronchitis, cervical lesions, diabetes, allergy, hypertension, epilepsy, ulcers, arthritis, haemorrhoids and multiple sclerosis (MS) …".
3. DHEA. Text stated "… DHEA supplementation can re-energise older people and reverse many diseases … inhibits the development of tumours of the breast, lung, colon, skin, lymphatic and other tissue … linked with a 48% reduction in death from heart diseases and a 36% reduction in death from other causes. Another study found benefits including better ability to cope with stress, increased mobility, decreased pain & higher quality sleep … supplementing with DHEA naturally increases estrogen levels.".
4. Slim-Pep. Text stated "Slim-Pep is a formulation of natural herbs and amino-acids … The herbs in Slim-Pep … have many other health benefits including, combating tiredness, reducing stress, cleansing and detoxifying and providing energy … The other ingredients of this amazing product include spirulina and bladderwrack both assisting thyroid function, capsicum, bitter orange, green tea and L-carnitine providing antioxidant scavenging and increased energy levels. A true power-house combination that is safe to be used by people with high blood pressure …".
5. VitaPep. Text stated "… ideal for weight reduction … restricts fats from digestion and absorption into the blood … By normalizing blood sugar … it may also help to prevent the onset of diabetes and hypoglycaemia …".
6. Melatonin. Text stated "… ability to immediately restore a healthy sleeping pattern … It will stimulate your immune system and play a major role in the production of many anti-aging hormones in men & women including oestrogen and testosterone … it can prevent the changes that lead to hypertension and heart attacks, as well as reducing the risk of certain types of cancer …".
7. Sedate. Text stated "KavaKava is used to alleviate a range of health problems including anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain … can also reduce feelings of nervousness, and somatic complaints such as heart palpitations, chest pains, headaches, dizziness and feelings of gastric irritation …".
8. SAMe. Text stated "the Wonder Supplement for Arthritis, Depression, Fybromyalgia, Mood and Much More … Over 3000 scientific research papers show SAMe supplementation has also shown to be beneficial in a variety of conditions including osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, several liver disorders, migraine headaches, ADHD, Alzheimers and learning and memory deficits associated with advancing age …".
9. Asthmex. Text stated "Ease Asthma the Natural Way Asthmex contains a combination of natural ingredients to help restore lung function and reduce histamine release from allergic reactions … Vitamin B6 … can also offset some of the ‘damage’ medications commonly prescribed for asthma have ...".
10. Serrapeptase. Text stated "… Clinical studies show that serrapeptase induces fibrinolytic, anti-inflammatory and anti-odemic (prevents swelling and fluid retention) activity in a number of tissues, and that its anti-inflammatory effects are superior to other proteolytic enzymes. Besides reducing inflammation, one of serrapeptase's most profound benefits is reduction of pain, due to its ability to block the release of pain-inducing amines from inflamed tissues … The health conditions that have benefitted from Serropeptase are numerous and include Ankylosing Spondylitis, Osteoporosis, Lupus, Diabetes, MS".
The Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) challenged whether:
1. the efficacy claims for these products were misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. claims in the brochure implied supplements could be used to prevent or treat illness, elevate mood or enhance normal performance.
The ASA challenged whether the brochure:
3. discouraged essential treatment and offered treatment for serious medical conditions without the supervision of a doctor or other suitably qualified health professional;
4. made medicinal claims for unauthorised products; and
5. suggested that the products DHEA, Slim-Pep and Asthmex were safe or effective merely because they contained natural ingredients.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Healthy for Life did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Healthy for Life's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 2.6 (Non-response). We reminded them of their obligations under the Code and told them to respond promptly in future.
1. & 2. Upheld
In the absence of any evidence to support the brochures efficacy claims for Caisse Plus, Beres Drops, DHEA, Slim-Pep, VitaPep, Melatonin, Sedate, SAMe, Asthmex or Serrapeptase, we concluded that they remained unsubstantiated and were likely to mislead.
In addition, we noted the claims for supplements referred to, for example, reversing diseases, alleviating health problems, increasing mobility and providing energy. We considered that the claims implied the supplements could be used to prevent or treat illness, elevate mood or enhance performance, which had not been demonstrated.
On these points, the brochure breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies - general), 50.20 and 50.21 (Health and beauty products and therapies - Vitamins, minerals and other food supplements).
We noted the brochure referred to serious medical conditions such as cancer, bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. We referred to the CAP Code, which stated that marketers should not discourage essential treatment or offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for serious or prolonged conditions unless it was conducted under the supervision of a doctor or other suitably qualified health professional. We noted, although the brochure referred to the treatment or alleviation of serious medical conditions, Healthy for Life had sent no evidence to show that treatment with the products was conducted under suitably qualified medical supervision. We were also concerned that, by referring to the products ability to treat or alleviate serious medical conditions, the brochure could discourage essential treatment.
On this point, the brochure breached CAP Code clause 50.3 (Health and beauty products and therapies - general).
We noted the brochure included medicinal claims, for example "... reduce or eliminate tumours ..." and claimed to successfully treat serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. We noted the CAP Code stated that medicinal claims should not be made for unauthorised products. We were not shown, however, any evidence to demonstrate that any of the products in the brochure had a valid marketing authorisation. In addition, we understood that some products, Melatonin, SAMe, Kava Kava and DHEA, were acknowledged to be medicinal by function and must not, therefore, be marketed without a marketing authorisation.
On this point, the brochure breached CAP Code clause 50.11 (Health and beauty products and therapies - medicines).
We noted the brochure claimed DHEA "naturally" increased oestrogen levels and that Slim-Pep was "natural" and "safe". We considered, however, that those claims did not go far enough to suggest that those products were safe or effective merely because they contained natural ingredients.
We then noted claims for the product Asthmex: "Ease Asthma the Natural Way Asthmex contains a combination of natural ingredients to help restore lung function and reduce histamine release from allergic reactions ... Vitamin B6 ... can also offset some of the damage medications commonly prescribed for asthma have". The CAP Code stipulated that marketing communications should not suggest that any product was safe or effective merely because it was natural or that it was generally safer because it omitted an ingredient in common use. We considered that claims for Asthmex implied the product had those qualities. In the absence of any evidence to demonstrate that that was the case, we concluded that the brochure breached the CAP Code in this regard.
On this point, the brochure breached CAP Code clause 50.5 (Health and beauty products and therapies - general).
We told Healthy for Life to ensure that future marketing material did not feature products that were medicinal by function if those products did not have a marketing authorisation. In addition, they must not repeat any efficacy claims for any of the products listed unless they held documentary evidence to support them. We told them to ensure that future material did not refer to serious or prolonged medical conditions, did not imply products were safe or effective merely because they contained natural ingredients and did not suggest that supplements could prevent or treat illness, elevate mood or enhance performance. We told them to seek a view from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.
We asked CAP to notify its members of the problem with Healthy for Life.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)