Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA and CAP are aware that some marketers believe that magnets that are worn on or around the body can be beneficial to health.
- Is it a medical device?
- What claims are likely to be problematic?
- What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?
Is it a medical device?
Marketers are advised that if ads for magnet products that are worn on or around the body make medicinal claims, the products may be treated as medical devices and as such, marketers are likely to need to hold an appropriate CE Marking certification for that product. If the marketers does not hold an appropriate CE Marking for the product then ads should not make medicinal claims. Marketers who are unsure should seek advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency (MHRA) regarding its position on medical devices.
What claims are likely to be problematic?
The ASA and CAP have yet to see any convincing evidence that magnets that are worm on or around the body can have a positive impact on health (mental or physical). Marketers are therefore advised that any claims about the effect of magnets on the body or mind would need to be supported by robust evidence in the form of clinical trials (rule 12.1).
In 2019, the ASA ruled against an ad which stated that a magnet product was “proven to reduce or completely eliminate menopause symptoms in over 71% of women” and referred to a number of common menopausal symptoms. Due to the lack of any clinical evidence to support the claims, the ASA ruled that the ad was misleading (Ladycare Lifetime Ltd, 26 June 2019).
Marketers can potentially make claims for products such as "magnetic knee straps" provided the ad makes absolutely clear that any temporary, positional relief results from the support are provided by the strap itself and not from the magnets. Furthermore, the strap should have been designed for that purpose and the mention of the magnets must be incidental. Implied claims for the efficacy or role of the magnets in such products are likely to be unacceptable unless they are supported by robust clinical evidence (Magnopulse Ltd, 16 March 2005.)
What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?
Ads for magnetic devices which claim to help diagnose or treat medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought could be seen to discourage essential medical treatment. Marketers are therefore advised not to refer to the diagnosis or treatment of such conditions, unless it is being carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (rule 12.2).
Also see; ‘Therapies: Magnetic Field Therapy'.