A poster on the London Underground for an over-the-counter blood test stated "Plasma screen starting at just £23.50. Myrios is the first over-the-counter blood test that allows you to screen yourself quickly and discreetly for a range of 14 different health conditions. Our wide range of blood tests can help you better understand your health and wellbeing. Whether you're concerned about a family history of diabetes or that your IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] may be attributed to a gluten intolerance speak to your pharmacist today about getting tested with myrios. Myrios test for: ... Anaemia, Menopause ... Diabetes ...To find your nearest stockist please visit www.xxxx.co.uk or call 01873 xxx xxx."
The ASA challenged whether the ad discouraged essential treatment for conditions such as anaemia, menopause and diabetes, for which medical supervision should be sought.
Synergy Health Laboratory Services (SHLS) said Myrios was intended to provide a service that gave high quality laboratory results to consumers, without them having to interpret the results themselves.
SHLS said their biomedical scientists, who worked in the lab, had over 80 years' experience between them and each specialised in a discipline of pathology. Their scientists followed procedures which were audited as part of the laboratory's internal audit programme and the laboratory participated in appropriate external quality assessments. They had a panel of NHS consultant pathologists from local hospitals who oversaw their clinical governance and who visited the laboratory on a weekly basis to provide advice and oversight.
SHLS said a typical Myrios test report explained which condition was being tested for and the test result, which was usually in numerical form, with a reference range for comparison. That was accompanied by a simple explanation of what the result might mean and a recommendation of what the consumer should do next and by when. They said they did not mention diagnosis or use language which could be seen as a diagnosis.
SHLS said each test was evaluated against a reference range and a set of "alert ranges". A registered biomedical scientist analysed and prepared the report and that was reviewed and edited by a GP. Finally, the language of the report was reviewed by non-medical staff to ensure that it would be understood by the consumer.
SHLS said that occasionally there might be a result which was unusual and warranted further attention. In those cases, the appropriate consultant would be contacted and the consultant's advice would be included in the report.
The ad stated that Myrios "... allow[ed] you to screen yourself ... for a range of 14 different health conditions", which the ASA considered was likely to be seen as a claim that the test could diagnose the conditions mentioned in the ad. SHLS staff had a biomedical background and we noted one member of the laboratory staff was a medically qualified doctor, registered with the General Medical Council and another was registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (formerly the Health Professions Council). The analysis of what the test results could mean for the consumer was written by a biomedical scientist with the guidance of a consultant pathologist from a local hospital. That analysis was reviewed by a GP before the test report was sent to the consumer. Furthermore, where test results were considered abnormal, the test report was prepared by one of the consultant pathologists.
We considered the ad was likely to be interpreted by consumers as offering a means of diagnosis for the conditions listed in the ad, some of which (anaemia, menopause and diabetes) were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. The Code did not allow advertisers to offer advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that was under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. However, we were satisfied that the test results and advice on what the consumer should do next was given under the supervision of suitably qualified health professionals. We therefore concluded the ad did not discourage essential treatment for those conditions.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
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), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.