ASA Adjudication on Magno-Pulse Ltd
24 Emery Road
16 June 2010
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A press ad for a knee support stated “Experts agree that by helping to improve blood circulation, nutrients flow to the painful area, encouraging the regeneration of damaged tissue” and “NHS carried out clinical trials and now recommend our leg wrap to leg ulcer sufferers. (Doctors may recommend to leg ulcer sufferers)”.
The complainant challenged whether the following claims could be substantiated:
1. "Experts agree that by helping to improve blood circulation, nutrients flow to the painful area, encouraging the regeneration of damaged tissue"; and
2. "NHS carried out clinical trials and now recommend our leg wrap to leg ulcer sufferers. (Doctors may recommend to leg ulcer sufferers).
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Magno-Pulse Ltd believed it was a widely held view that their product could improve blood circulation and encourage regeneration of damaged tissue, but acknowledged that they did not hold evidence to substantiate that.
2 Magno-Pulse sent a copy of a pilot study from the Journal of Wound Care which they said related to NHS trials on the UlcerCare product. They said UlcerCare and Knee Care were the same product but had different names because Magno-Pulse was not permitted to refer to serious medical conditions. Magno-Pulse also sent a copy of a letter from a NHS Trust, distributed to GPs, practice managers and nurses, which stated that the UlcerCare product "may be used on chronic leg ulcers; however, it should not replace compression bandaging but should be used to compliment [sic] it." Magno-Pulse also sent us a letter from the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) that stated the UlcerCare product had been included on the NHS Drug Tariff.
The ASA was concerned that Magno-Pulse were unable to provide substantiation for their advertised claims. We reminded them that the CAP Code required marketers to hold documentary evidence to prove all claims before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication. Because Magno-Pulse failed to provide substantiation, we considered that the claims had not been proven and were therefore misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).
We acknowledged that one NHS Trust advised that the UlcerCare product could be used to complement other conventional treatments for ulcers. We also noted, however, that the letter stated "The role of this product is as yet unclear and evidence regarding its use inconclusive" and that the UlcerCare was not "recommended" as a primary treatment for ulcers, but as an addition to conventional compression bandaging. We noted that the UlcerCare product was on the NHS Drug Tariff list as a product that could be dispensed. However, we understood that the tariff set the level of remuneration for pharmacists and relevant rules relating to dispensing the product and did not state whether a product would be suitable for use for a specified condition.
We considered that the claim "NHS carried out clinical trials and now recommend our leg wrap to leg ulcer sufferers" implied that the NHS, as a whole, had endorsed the product and recommended it as a stand alone treatment for leg ulcers, rather than as an expression of the opinion of one NHS Trust about the products use alongside conventional wound care and compression therapy. Because we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that the NHS as a whole recommended the use of the Knee Care product for leg ulcers by itself, we concluded the claim was likely to mislead.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told Magno-Pulse to ensure they held robust substantiation for their claims prior to publication in future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)