Herbex and HPA’s arguments ring hollow

Posted 17 October 2014

regan-hpa-herbex After more than a year of rulings, appeals, delays, and ultimately the Final Appeal Committee (FAC), former Constitutional Court Judge, Kate O’Regan and the Committee, brought additional clarity to the ASA.  (For brevity’s sake please accept that my references below to “Judge O’Regan” refer also to the Committee.)


  • Herbex claimed that the original substantiation by a medical doctor that Herbex worked, should stand. Judge O’Regan showed that the doctor had misread and contradicted the very evidence that he had provided in support of his substantiation. She rejected the substantiation.
  • Herbex introduced new substantiation into the final appeal without following the correct procedure. Although Judge O’Regan did look at (and rejected the merits of!) the new “evidence” – she emphasised that it was clear the Herbex did not have the evidence to hand before they started advertising the products. This is very important, and could form the basis of complaints in future (for any CAMs).
  • Herbex claimed that its internet advertisements were not subject to the Code of Advertising Practice. Judge O’Regan dismissed this.
  • Herbex claimed that simply being a member of the Health Products Association (HPA) did not make it subject to the Code of Advertising Practice. Based on a clear reading of the HPA’s constitution, Judge O’Regan rejected this.
  •  The HPA joined the Final Appeal at a late stage and introduced the MCC’s draft Quality, Safety and Efficacy Guideline into the proceedings. This guideline was found helpful by Judge O’Regan and she used it as an argument against the HPA’s argument that the ASA should return to their “old” way of accepting substantiation upon the “say so” of an expert.
  • The HPA also introduced a document from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which Judge O’Regan indicated provided useful guidance as to the meaning of substantiation. I have read and re-read this part of the ruling many times [paragraph 42], and what strikes me is that the FTC refers to “products.” The HPA had asked that CAMs be substantiated based only on individual “ingredients.” But, of course, advertising does not refer only to ingredients, but to “products” – and consumers usually buy “products” for a particular reason, rather than just ingredients.

In summary – this is a landmark ASA ruling. Ironically, it is the HPA we must thank for having provided Judge O’Regan and the Committee with valuable information which has helped guide the decision. If the ASA ever adopts the HPA’s proposed “Code for Advertising CAMS” – the code cannot violate the principles in this FAC ruling.

The full ruling follows below.

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Supplement products associated with liver toxicity

Posted 13 October 2014

The Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network has reported that about 15% of the cases that it studied involved herbal and dietary supplement products. The organization was established in 2003 to identify and study cases of drug-induced liver injury attributable to medications (excluding acetaminophen [APAP]) and supplements. The 130 patients with liver injury from supplements consisted of 45 (35%) who had taken bodybuilding products and 85 (65%) who had taken non-bodybuilding products. The report noted the problems attributable to bodybuilding products were relatively mild but severe outcomes (deaths and liver transplants) were more frequent among users non-bodybuilding products than among medication users.

[From: Consumer Health Digest #14-38, October 12, 2014]

Below is the published abstract.

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NutriTech 100% Pure Whey – ASA ruling

Posted 13 October 2013

USN are simply put, scoundrels.

Here they laid a complaint against a competitor arguing that the claims for their 100 Pure Whey Protein was untruthful. Well, I laid a complaint against USN for the same thing a year ago!

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USN 100% Whey Protein

Posted 13 October 2014

This complaint appears to have slipped between the cracks in that I did not post it to CAMCheck.

In essence, USN’s 100% Whey protein was tested for truthful claims and found to be wanting. The amount of protein in the product was not as indicated on the label. Consumers were being lied to, cheated and ripped off.  A complaint was laid with the ASA. As usual, USN simply claimed that the label was not current and that they had changed the labels and so the ASA had no right to consider the complaint.

Why is this in particular relevant? Well USN recently complained about the untruthfulness of a competitor’s label!

Continue reading » USN 100% Whey Protein

USN Fat Block – Fat chance

03 October 2014

As usual, USN show how untrustworthy USN are. First this product claimed to be able to block fat, but the ASA ruled against the claims being made. So USN simply changed the product’s name to Fat Binder. The ASA ruled against the claims for this product and the name. What has USN done? Simply changed the product’s name to Fibre binder! Same ingredient, same dose. Unbelievable. Major scam artists!

Will the ASA eventually hit them with very severe sanctions?

Continue reading » USN Fat Block – Fat chance

USN – ASA breach ruling


02 October 2014

On 14 July 2014 the complainant submitted a breach complaint against the respondent’s website advertising for USN Phedra-Cut Lipo XT product. He referred to a previous adverse ruling USN Phedra-Cut Lipo XT / MM Davy / 20382 (26 July 2012), as well as the original ruling in this matter, and argued that the respondent’s continued use of the claims “ALL DAY WEIGHT CONTROL” and “May assist in weight control are clearly in breach of the relevant rulings and warrant sanctions against a serial offender.

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Celltone: ASA breach ruling

02 October 2014

On 5 August 2014 a breach complaint was lodged against advertising appearing on The website contains the claims “all products are enriched with Snail Gel extract which can help to reduce the appearance of Stretch marks, Wrinkles and Dark spots”. The complainant argued that the respondent continues using these claims in spite of the ASA ruling as well as its own research previously found wanting.

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Hoodia study produces ‘frightening’ results: new Stellenbosch study

02 October 2014

A second perspective of the recent study arguing that Hoodia affects a user’s muscles negatively.
A recent study of the ‘miracle’ weight loss supplement hoodia, by the University of Stellenbosch, cast considerable doubt on the safety of the product.

The results of new research, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, on the effect that the weight loss supplement Hoodia had on rats, were described by head researcher, Prof. Carine Smith from the University of Stellenbosch, as “frightening”.
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Warning over hoodia ‘diets’

Posted 29 September 2014

This article published in Times, refers to a recent study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which reports that  consuming extracts of the succulent plant Hoodia may not just shed fat but muscle tissue too. The research was conducted in rats and one cannot necessarily extrapolate to humans. For example, Hoodia has been shown to result in appetite suppression in rats but not in humans.

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Complementary Medicines regulations amendment

Posted 16 September 2014

An amendment to the Complementary Medicines regulations has been published.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH No. R. 716   15 September 2014



The Minister of Health intends, in terms of section 35 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965), and in consultation with the Medicines Control Council, to make the regulations in the Schedule.

Interested persons are invited to submit any substantiated comments in writing on the proposed amendments to the Director-General: Health, Private Bag X828, Pretoria, 0001 (for attention of the Acting Director: Complimentary Medicines) within three months from date of publication of this notice.

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