ASA Adjudication on Life Healthcare
Life Healthcare t/a
Life Natural Cures
24B Moorefield Road
20 June 2012
Direct mail, Magazine, Insert
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Five issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
A leaflet for a joint pain treatment stated "Health professionals recommend ... Arthroplex Say no to rheumatism and joint pain Feels your aches and pains fade in 48 hours! And then disappear forever. Are you affected by any of these conditions?" A list of medical conditions were stated including "Osteoarthritus", "Polyarthritus", "Deformative rheumatism", "Osteoporosis" and "Sciatica". Further text stated "Doctor's [sic]... Find out more inside".
Inside the leaflet text stated "It's a proven fact: osteoarthritus and rheumatism affect more people in England than any other disease ... and ... can now be effectively treated ... thanks to the astoundingly effective innovation of our anti-inflammatory, restorative product Arthroplex ... Thanks to Arthroplex there is no need to put up with painful joints ... an innovative supplement with natural active ingredients renown [sic] for their potency in combating swollen joints and regenerating cartilage. This synergetic combination of 10 plants with anti-inflammatory, soothing properties ... has been repeatedly shown to be effective in patients whose joint pain was bordering on unbearable ... Many health professionals recommend Arthroplex to their patients ... The results are noticeable from the very 1st day of use, in the form of: An improvement in the level pain affecting the inflamed area A reduction in the swelling of the joint A reduction in stiffness. Arthroplex also regenerates After the initial impact, in the first few hours following intake, the regenerating properties of the treatment kick in ... You'll then start to notice the remineralising, strengthening action on the cartilage: Stiffness disappears The joints recover their suppleness Inflammation disappears permanently".
A before and after picture showed an X-ray of a joint. Next to the before picture text stated "BEFORE TREATMENT An arthritic joint showing cartilage deterioration - the bone is painfully exposed, the blood vessels are weeping". Next to the after picture text stated "48 HRS AFTER TREATMENT A healthy joint after just a few days of treatment with Arthroplex patches ...". Further text stated "In 30 days cartilage is 100% reconstructed! The micro-targeted action of Arthroplex male is 100% effective because the molecules penetrate the inflamed area instantly, directly attacking the cause of your rheumatism". Two illustrations of a knee joint were shown. The first stated "Day 1 Cartilage 80% worn Intense, agonising pain" and the second stated "Day 30 Cartilage 100% regenerated Inflammation and pain disappeared".
Further text stated "A formula packed with rich plant extract giving fast and long term pain relief! Arnica Calms cervical rheumatism ... Horse Chestnut Relieved rheumatic pain in the shoulde r... Meadowsweet Soothes rheumatism in the hip ... Mint and Juniper Treats muscular rheumatism ... Liquorice Relief for lumbar rheumatism ... Harpagophytum Improves rheumatism in the knee, elbow and fingers ... Papaya and pineapple Relieve rheumatism in the ankles and wrists ... Solomon's Seal Anti-inflammatory properties ... Arthroplex provides highly effective treatment for: Reducing inflammation Stopping pain Regenerating and protecting cartilage Restoring synovial fluid quality Healing osteoarthritis ... ".
Further text stated "Rheumatic pain is greatly reduced and disappears in weeks! Arthroplex reabsorbs the inflammation and the swelling in the feet and hands. They decongest the area, ridding it of debris, improving joint movement and causing the natural expulsion of the uric acid that causes gout. Pain disappears quickly" and showed a series of photographs of the various stages of a foot correction, indicating that after 68 days the foot had completely recovered.
1. 29 complainants challenged whether the efficacy claims made for the product could be substantiated.
2. Two complainants challenged whether the claim "Health professionals recommend ... Arthroplex" could be substantiated.
3. 21 complainants challenged whether the before and after pictures that showed an X-ray of a joint 48 hours after treatment, and cartilage regeneration after 30 days of treatment, misleadingly exaggerated the effects that could be achieved by the product.
4. 28 complainants challenged whether the photographs of the various stages of a foot correction, over 68 days, misleadingly exaggerated the effects that could be achieved by the product.
5. Six complainants challenged whether the reference to "Doctors" was misleading.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Life Healthcare said the Arthroplex formulation had been advertised worldwide for some time without complaint. They also said the ad included information that was provided to them by their supplier and would be asking them for further information and advice.
The ASA noted Life Healthcare said the information featured in the leaflet was provided by their supplier. However, we considered that because Life Healthcare was the advertiser, they were responsible for responding to the complaint. We noted Life Healthcare said they would be asking their supplier for further information and advice but we did not receive any further correspondence.
1., 2., 3., 4. & 5. Upheld
We noted the leaflet listed a variety of medical conditions and made claims that the product could regenerate cartilage, treat inflammation and improve rheumatism. We also noted it claimed that the product could treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid polyarthritis. We noted the complainants had challenged whether the efficacy claims could be substantiated; the product was recommended by Health Professionals; the before and after pictures exaggerated the effects that could be achieved by the product; and whether the reference to "Doctors" was misleading. However, because the claims that the product could be used with a view to treating or preventing disease were classed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as medicinal claims, we understood that Life Healthcare were required to hold a marketing authorisation for the product from the MHRA before marketing it to UK consumers. Because Life Healthcare did not hold the relevant authorisation, we did not investigate the ad further, but reminded Life Healthcare of their obligation to check their claims were legal under medicines law (CAP Code rule 12.11). We concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 12.2 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products) and 12.11 (Medicines).
The leaflet must not appear again in its current form. We told Life Healthcare to ensure that their marketing complied with the relevant statutory requirements in future.