Thursday, November 27, 2008

ASA: Three strikes and you to carry on.

I've written about unregulated arthritis product Artrosilium on a number of occasions. The Advertising Standards Agency has just upheld the third complaint this year against Intramed Ltd, the company that markets Artrosilium in the UK.

The first in May 2008 was for selling herbal pills that purported to sort out prostate problems and raise your sexual game; the second in Sept 2008 was promoting more herbal pills (more specifically gingko biloba) which claimed:
By taking just two capsules of Ginkgo Biloba each day you will cope better with stress; your blood pressure will return to normal, a little more each day; your cholesterol level will fall, your short term memory will improve; after just a few days, you'll feel as though you've fallen into a real fountain of youth

The third, that came out this week, was for Vitasvelt, another herbal pill that:
is currently the only slimming product that can give you these amazing results thanks to the powerful action of Negative Calories, Lose 22lbs easily! 100% natural! Each capsule is packed with all the goodness found in 7 1/2 lbs of fresh cut vegetables! VitaSvelt - Lose weight fast eating your favourite foods
All three are unsubstantiated drivel.

Three wrist slaps in one year and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Intramed Ltd are free to continue selling their outlandish snake oil and I have no doubt it'll only be a matter of time before they do it again.

Their online shop, Health & Harmony Direct is a textbook study on the business of quackery.

The ASA have asked the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) to inform its media members of the problem with IntraMed. I'll not hold my breath.



  1. I love what 'Dr Bruce' has to say about being The People's Doctor! How bizarrely crap.

  2. Honestly, just what is the point of the ASA? The only real power they have is to stop an ad being released again in its current form. By then of course hundreds of people may have seen it, and the damage is done.

    They should have the power to pre-vet ads from companies/orgs that have had complaints upheld.

  3. The ASA are a funny one. In general, they do a very good job and are pretty sharp - the problem being they have no teeth.

    From their website:
    The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent body set up by the advertising industry to police the rules laid down in the advertising codes

    The advertising industry isn't going to be too harsh on itself, though is it?

  4. A perfect illustration of the problems the ASA face. I think Smart Bombs' suggestion is an interesting one - certainly something needs to be done to deter firms from making ads that are clearly not in compliance with the CAP code of practice. Pre-vetting ads or fining serial offenders would be worth considering as options.

  5. "The advertising industry isn't going to be too harsh on itself, though is it?"

    It will want to regulate itself effectively, though, to avoid the possibility of statutory regulation being imposed on it. I think the ASA was originally set up to ward this off.

  6. ... and indeed I would say it is doing this very well.

    The ASA is held in high regard, in that it wrist slaps when appropriate and that is all that is asked of it (both internally and externally)(and all, IMHO, it will ever do).

    However, companies who realise this, also realise that they can effectively repeat offend without too much issue, especially if they are the sort of company who selld unlicensed pills via internet-only sites, and registered sometimes in Guernsey, sometimes in Switzerland, like Intramed is.

  7. Most slimming products a con (shock news from proper Prof of Nutrition).

    "Michael Lean, professor of human nutrition at Glasgow University,
    told the Guardian that of the hundreds of slimming strategies that are actively marketed at overweight people, the only ones proven to work are low-calorie diets, exercise programmes, the drugs orlistat and sibutramine, and in some cases bariatric surgery.

    In an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Lean attacks the
    "commercial exploitation of vulnerable patients with quack medicines" and calls for strict enforcement of new laws that have recently made it illegal for companies to mislead customers over the health benefits of their products."

    You know - we need some kind person to give us a seminar on how to
    make a complaint under the new trading laws - and guidance on to whom as not all TS seem to have the capacity or the will to pursue complaints.

  8. heh - yet more evidence that the ASA needs to be backed up by statutory weight. They need the teeth to say that after several transgressions a company must stop advertising that class of product, and can only re-start when the ASA has pre-vetted they new ad - good call smart bombs!

    i do agree with Dr*T though, the ASA does a very good job within its current remit.

  9. As I've said before the ASA is inconsistant. The problem is that although press and TV will make sure that these ads will not be published, there is nothing effectively stopping these claims being made on a website owned by the company. The only law backed teeth here is if Trading Standards or possibly the MHRA pick up the ball.
    The ASA will pre-vet ads if you ask them to. The trouble being that only the honest companies will do this

  10. Collagena medica is promoted by the same company so I am assuming that that product is also a waste of money. Is that the case? Has anyone heard feedback on this product?