ASA Adjudication on Revive BioScience UK Ltd
Revive BioScience UK Ltd
72 High Street
10 October 2012
Internet (display), Internet (on own site)
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Six issues were investigated, all were Upheld.
Three ads for a pain relief product called O24™, a blend of essential oils applied topically to the skin:
a. A banner ad on Facebook was headlined "Relief From Chronic Pain! Allnaturalpainmanage ...". Underneath was an X-ray image of someone sat down, bending over and text stated "Eliminates pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint & muscle pain, back pain, headaches ...".
b. Cover shots of Golfer, GQ and Men's Health magazines appeared on www.menshealthweeklyonline.com/UK/ on 1 June 2012 and were accompanied by the claim "Article originally featured in". The web page included content about O24™ which stated "SPECIAL REPORT: Revolutionary finding by U.K. researchers leads to fastest selling chronic pain solution in the world". Underneath, it stated "Are you living in pain? Is chronic pain causing you to be left behind? Do your shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and hands cry for help?". The web page continued "Most doctors will say that pain is a symptom of an underlying health problem. If you treat the problem, the pain should go away. But, for a staggering number of Britons that pain never goes away. The National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine estimates that over 30 Million Britons suffer from some form of debilitating and chronic pain. What is even scarier is that without treatment, simple pain in muscles and joints can quickly develop into chronic and lifelong pain such as Arthritis and Fibromyalgia ...".
Text continued under the heading "Traditional Pain Medication Can Kill You", and stated "It's obvious traditional pain medication both over-the-counter variety and prescription are not the answer. Over the counter medication of NSAIDS (non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs) like Aspirin and Ibuprofen may not be strong enough and can actually kill you. A study published by the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine shows that there are over 100,000 hospitalizations and over 16,000 deaths each year in the UK alone. The causes are ulcers and severe stomach bleeding caused directly by these over-the-counter pain pills. Prescription medication has even greater side effects such as addiction and the potential for abuse (Oxycontin for example). They simply do more harm than good.
So what is the solution? The only solution is to go directly to the source of chronic pain, using an all-natural solution that doesn't produce these nasty side effects. A shocking discovery by UK researchers may have just produced the perfect solution. Revolutionary all natural and patented O24TM Pain Management System is scientifically formulated and clinically proven to provide incredible pain relief and long term healing without any side effects".
Under the heading "What is the O24TM Pain Management System?", text stated "O24 is an all-natural and patented topical painkiller that is clinically proven to provide incredible pain relief with absolutely no side effects. It is a proprietary blend of 7 essential oils (their website lists the following ingredients: peppermint, eucalyptus, orange, camphor, aloe vera, lemon and rosemary) ...".
(c) Claims on www.allnaturalpainmanagement.com stated "The Only All Natural FDA Approved Pain Management Solution That Guarantees Results! O24 STOP Letting Everyday Pain Hold You Back. Eliminate Chronic Pain Caused by ... Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Carpal Tunnel, Diabetic Neuropathy, Weight Gain, Muscle Aches, Sports Injuries. Because You Deserve to Always Feel At Your Best, Eliminate Pain with FDA Approved, US Patented O24™ Pain Management System". Underneath text stated "THE ONLY ALL NATURAL, PATENTED AND FDA APPROVED PAIN MANAGEMENT SOLUTION THAT GUARANTEES RESULTS WITH ABSOLUTELY NO SIDE EFFECTS". The page explained what the product could be used for, it provided a list of the ingredients and included a number of customer testimonials. It also included a response panel whereby consumers could apply for a special offer.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the efficacy claims made in ad (a) were misleading and could be substantiated;
2. ad (b) resembled editorial content and failed to make clear it was a marketing communication; and
3. the claim that the content of ad (b) had appeared in Golfer, GQ and Men's Health magazines was misleading and could be substantiated.
The ASA challenged whether:
4. ads (a) and (c) discouraged essential treatment for a condition, arthritis, for which medical supervision was required;
5. ads (a), (b) and (c) made medicinal claims for an unlicensed product; and
6. the claims in ads (b) and (c) that the product was guaranteed to work, without side effects, and the implication that it was safe because it was natural were misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Revive BioScience UK did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Revive BioScience UK's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of the 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. & 5. Upheld
We considered the claims "Relief From Chronic Pain!" and "Eliminates pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint & muscle pain, back pain, headaches ...", "... chronic pain solution", "... scientifically formulated and clinically proven to provide incredible pain relief and long term healing without any side effects ...", "Eliminate Chronic Pain Caused by ... Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, Carpal Tunnel, Diabetic Neuropathy, Weight Gain, Muscle Aches, Sports Injuries ..." implied that the product, O24™ could relieve pain caused by those conditions. The complainant challenged whether those claims could be substantiated. However, we considered such claims were medicinal and, therefore, we understood Revive BioScience was required to hold a marketing authorisation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before marketing the product to UK consumers. Because they did not hold the relevant authorisation, we considered they were making medicinal claims for an unlicensed product. The Code prohibited Revive BioScience from making such claims and, therefore, we did not investigate those points further. We reminded them of their obligation to check their claims were legal under medicines law (CAP Code 12.11).
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.1, (Medicines, medical devices, health related products and beauty products) and 12.11 (Medicines).
Ad (b) was written in the style of editorial content; however, we were unable to find details of a publication called "Men's Health Weekly". We noted that the popular magazine, Men's Health, was a monthly edition and its website had a different URL address. We understood from Men's Health that ad (b) was not connected or associated with them in any way.
ReviveBioScience had not shown us evidence that the website was one for a publication and in the absence of such evidence, we considered that it was not editorial content but rather advertising for O24™. The Code required advertising to be obviously identifiable as such and we considered that was not the case here. Because of that, we concluded the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 2.1 (Recognition of marketing communications).
We had not seen evidence that ad (b) had originally appeared as editorial content in Golfer, GQ or Men's Health magazines and because of that, we considered the claim was misleading.
The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
We considered arthritis was a condition for which medical supervision should be sought and as such, we were concerned that ReviveBioScience made claims that O24™ could treat such a condition. Notwithstanding our concerns set out above in point 1 that they should not be making medicinal claims, we considered consumers, seeing the efficacy claims, could start to use the product without seeking medical advice to check whether it was appropriate to include it as part of their treatment regime. For those reasons, the ad discouraged essential treatment for a condition for which medical supervision should be sought and therefore we concluded the ad breached the Code.
On this point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We had not seen evidence which supported ReviveBioScience's claims that the product was guaranteed to work or that it did not have any side effects. Because of that, we concluded those claims were misleading and breached the Code. We considered ad (b), in particular, implied that because O24™ was natural, it was therefore safe; claims which were prohibited by the Code. For that reason, we concluded the ads breached the Code.
On this point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.1, 12.9 and 12.10 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ads must no longer appear. We told Revive BioScience not to make medicinal claims for an unlicensed product and not to discourage essential treatment for a condition for which medical supervision should be sought. We told them to hold substantiation for the claim that the content had appeared in Golfer, GQ and Men's Health magazines and to ensure their advertising was identifiable as such. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.