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ASA Ruling: Homemark Prosvent

This is an ASA ruling following a consumer complaint against Homemark's Prosvent product made in October 2009. 

Of significance, the product's efficacy was "substantiated" by Dr Paul Abrahams. Dr Abrahams has previously substantiated a number of Homemark's products – some of which I and professors of pharmacology/pharmacy have considered insufficient evidence to support the efficacy of those particular products. 

Prosvent / D Govender / 14358

Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Mrs Dawn Govender Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Homemark (Pty) Ltd Respondent

28 Oct 2009
Mrs Govender lodged a consumer complaint against the television commercial for Homemark’s “Prosvent” product. The commercial was seen on the National Geographic channel during September 2009.

It promotes the respondent’s product as a remedy for the symptoms of enlarged prostates.

COMPLAINT
The complainant took issue with the fact that the commercial makes reference to symptoms common to prostate cancer, yet makes no recommendation for people to consult their doctors prior to use to rule out the possibility of having prostate cancer.

This is dangerously misleading and could result in unnecessary and preventable deaths.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the new submissions the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted that, while it disagrees with the complainant’s submission that the commercial implies that the product would cure a disease, it sees merit in the suggested warning.

Accordingly, it has amended the commercial to include the following statements:

“The product is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease”, and

“Should you have a pre-existing medical condition, consult your doctor before using this product”.

The respondent added that both these statements appear on the product packaging as well. In addition, it submitted a letter of support for the efficacy claims from Dr Paul Abrahams

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

It is firstly noted that the complainant does not appear to dispute the efficacy claims made for this product. She simply takes issue with the fact that the symptoms mentioned could relate to a more serious disease, and as a result, the respondent should advise people to consult with their doctors prior to using the product. As such, the complainant does not call for substantiation in terms of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

The Directorate will therefore not consider Clause 4.1 of Section II at this time.

In response to the complaint, the respondent undertook to amend its television commercial to include the following statements:

“The product is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease”, and

“Should you have a pre-existing medical condition, consult your doctor before using this product”.

This undertaking appears to address the complainant’s specific concerns and is therefore accepted on condition that the commercial in its complained of format is amended within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide.

However, the Directorate wishes to draw the respondent’s attention to the provisions of Appendix F. This appendix expressly prohibits any references to specific diseases or conditions unless such references accord with full product registration by the Medicines Control Council (MCC).

One condition listed is “enlarged glands”, which clearly applies to the respondent’s product.

1 comment to ASA Ruling: Homemark Prosvent

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