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ASA Adjudication on Back Trouble UK

Back Trouble UK

[Full address needed]

Date:

24 August 2011

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A11-157930

Background

Ad

A website offered treatment for back pain and other ailments. Under the heading "What can an Osteomyologist treat?" the website listed various ailments including whiplash and arthritis. It also stated "Treatment has also been shown to be effective for the following conditions ... Migraine and headaches, Period pains, Behaviour problems in children, Diabetes, Stress, Asthma, Glue ear, Colic in babies, Sleep disturbance, Strokes and other neurological problems".

Under the headline "Chiropractic & Back pain" and the subheading "Benefits of Chiropractic Care" the website listed the following benefits "add years to life", "slows the ageing process" and "improves immunity".

Issue

The complainant challenged whether:

1. the claims that an Osteomyologist could treat whiplash and arthritis, which were serious medical conditions, could be substantiated;

2. the claims that Osteomyology could be effective in the treatment of migraine, headaches, period pain, behaviour problems in children, diabetes, stress, asthma, glue ear, colic in babies, sleep disturbance, strokes and other neurological problems, could be substantiated;

3. the ad could discourage essential medical treatment for conditions, in particular for diabetes, asthma and strokes, for which medical supervision should be sought; and

4. the claims that chiropractic treatment could improve immunity, add years to one's life and slow down the ageing process could be substantiated.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

Back Trouble UK did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

Assessment

The ASA was concerned by Back Trouble UK's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

1. & 3. Upheld

We noted that the website claimed that Osteomyologists could treat arthritis, whiplash, diabetes, asthma and stroke. We considered that these were serious medical conditions. We noted that CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 stated that marketers must not discourage essential medical treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. It also said that marketers should not offer treatment for such conditions unless that treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. We noted that Osteomyologists were not subject to regulation by statute or a recognised health or professional body. We therefore considered that Osteomyologists should not offer treatment for serious medical conditions. Because we had seen no evidence that the treatment for those conditions was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional we considered that the ad breached the Code on this point.

On these points the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 and 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

2. & 4. Upheld

We noted that to date the ASA had seen no evidence that Osteomyology could treat the conditions listed on the website. In the absence of documentary evidence in support of the efficacy claims we concluded that they were unsubstantiated and therefore misleading.

On these points the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action

We told Back Trouble UK to remove from their website the claims found to be in breach of the Code.

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