A page headed 'Smile Qigong' on the website www.mecures.co.uk included a graphic with the title "M.E. Cures PIONEERS OF THE SMILE M.E. CURE PROGRAMME". Text on the page referred to the suitability and benefits of 'Smile Qigong' for people suffering from ME and stated "Benefits of Smile Qigong include raised energy levels, improved focus".
The ME Association challenged whether claims to treat ME in both the title of the page and the description of the therapy could be substantiated.
ME Cures acknowledged the complaint but declined to comment on the case.
The ASA was disappointed that ME Cures did not engage with the investigations process. We noted that the ad referred to general health benefits of the programme, including "raised energy levels" We considered that, in the context of a therapy described as suitable for those with ME (myalgic enchephalomylitis) and on a page headed "M.E. Cures PIONEERS OF THE SMILE M.E. CURE PROGRAMME," both these statements and the title of the page itself were likely to be understood by website visitors as claims for the treatment of ME and its associated symptoms. In the absence of evidence to support the efficacy claims made for the therapy, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ME Cures to ensure that future ads did not make efficacy claims that were not supported by robust, documentary evidence.