Text, for a homeopathic genital wart relief spray, seen on www.shytobuy.co.uk, stated "Wartrol Genital Warts Relief is a discreet, fast-working homeopathic spray that can be applied within seconds and used on the go. You can completely clear your infection within just 2-4 weeks without any pain or scarring. The natural ingredients in Wartrol FDA approved for their abilities to effectively eliminate the infection and prevent future outbreaks from occurring. This homeopathic spray can eliminate the infection within just weeks Clears the outbreak completely with no pain, scars or side effects Contains natural ingredients approved for treating genital warts by the FDA Easy to apply, fast-working and discreet - nobody needs to know you're using it Only takes a few seconds to use either orally or topically 2-6 times per day Suitable for use and equally effective for both male and female genital warts".
The complainant challenged whether the ad discouraged essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
Comfort Click Ltd (Comfort Click) said they had removed the product from the website. They also said their manufacturer provided them with information that stated that Wartrol was a homeopathic product and was regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which they believed substantiated that it was effective. They also said their manufacturer stated that a homeopathic drug was any drug labelled as being homeopathic and which was listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS), an addendum to it, or its supplements. They submitted a Certificate of Manufacture which listed the product's ingredients, dilution and alcohol percentage and indicated that the product had been manufactured following Quality Assurance and Quality Control procedures, and in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices for Homeopathy.
The ASA welcomed Comfort Click's assurance that the product had been removed from the website. The CAP Code made clear that specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought should not be offered unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. We considered genital warts was a condition for which medical supervision should be sought. However, we had not seen evidence that the treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional.
Furthermore, we noted the CAP Code made clear that homeopathic medicinal products were required to be licensed in the UK, and that marketing communications for unlicensed products must not make medicinal or therapeutic claims, or refer to an ailment unless authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The product was not registered as a homeopathic medicinal product and therefore made unauthorised claims.
We concluded that, because references to genital warts could discourage essential treatment for which medical supervision should be sought, and furthermore, the ad marketed a homeopathic medicinal product without the relevant authorisation, it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
Marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered (see rule 12.11).
Health professionals will be deemed suitably qualified only if they can provide suitable credentials, for example, evidence of: relevant professional expertise or qualifications; systems for regular review of members' skills and competencies and suitable professional indemnity insurance covering all services provided; accreditation by a professional or regulatory body that has systems for dealing with complaints and taking disciplinary action and has registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products) and 12.20 12.20 Homeopathic medicinal products must be registered in the UK. Any product information given in the marketing communication should be confined to what appears on the label. Marketing communications must include a warning to consult a doctor if symptoms persist. Marketing communications for an unlicensed product must not make a medicinal or therapeutic claim or refer to an ailment unless authorised by the MHRA to do so. (Medicines).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Comfort Click not to make medicinal or therapeutic claims, or refer to an ailment, in relation to homeopathic products, unless authorised to do so by the MHRA. We also told them not to advertise homeopathic products unless they were licensed.