Antagolin – ASA ruling

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Posted 11 April 2014

Make no mistake, the evidence for Antagolin being an effective weight loss / insulin resistance treatment is not robust at all. There is no study published on this product, no evidence that the ingredients are effective, and now, the products is actually an illegal medicine for CAM regulations published will not permit it as a CAM, and it is not registered as a medicine.

Read this ASA ruling with our deconstruction to see why we call this product a scam.

Antagolin Insulin / H A Steinman / 2014 – 372F
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr H A Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Medical Nutritional Institute (Pty) Ltd Respondent

28 Mar 2014

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against a Medical Nutritional Institute’s television commercial and website advertising promoting “Antagolin”. The commercial was flighted on MNet television channel.

The commercial features a close-up shots of a side profile of a man’s thick waistline and zooms out to show the full shot of a sitting (overweight) man covering his face with his hands. During this, a male voice-over states:

“Are you battling to lose weight? You may be suffering from insulin resistance. Measure your waist. Females more than 88 and males more than 102 centimetres may have insulin resistance. Antagolin combats insulin resistance helping you to lose weight effectively. Developed by the Medical Nutritional Institute. Antagolin. Available without prescription from all leading pharmacists. SMS MNI to 47563 for more info.”

According to the complainant, the respondent’s website promotes the product with claims such as:

“AntagolinTM may help to alleviate insulin resistance and assist you gain better control over your weight”, and

“AntagolinTM consists of a compilation of natural agents that have been recognised for their ability to alleviate insulin resistance. Its mechanism of action comprises the simultaneous targeting of multiple metabolic and biochemical pathways involved in Glucose and fat metabolism, as well as the optimal functioning of insulin”.
COMPLAINT

The complainant submitted, in essence, that the claims made in the commercial are unsubstantiated and misleading to an average consumer. He explained that there is not a single published and peer reviewed study confirming that the mix of the advertised product’s ingredients may result in combating insulin resistance, or effectively contributing to weight loss. He added that he has evaluated the individual ingredients, and this research also does not confirm efficacy for the individual ingredients for the claims being made. In support of this argument, he elaborated on why the individual ingredients cannot be claimed to be effective. This argument includes the fact that the doses used in this product are significantly lower than those tested. In addition, he submitted copies of the research results from, inter alia, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database and PubMed.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

The complainant identified Clause 4.1 of Section II (Substantiation) as relevant to his complaint.

RESPONSE

Attorneys Erasmus De Klerk Inc., acting on behalf of the respondent, submitted, inter alia, as follows:

“… We refer you to the complaint with your reference number 22891 with regard to the same product and your ruling dated 28 February 2014.

For ease of reference, we enclose herewith a copy of our letter dated 13 March 2014 in terms of which it is indicated that our client will abide by your ruling but has the intention to make new submissions to you in terms of Clause 4.1.7 of Section II of the Code …”

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

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

In terms of the Code and a long-standing principle held in previous rulings, the Directorate has discretion in terms of deciding whether or not an unequivocal undertaking to remove or amend the advertising complained of is an adequate resolution to the matter.

To determine whether or not the respondent’s undertaking to “abide by [the ASA] ruling …” is sufficient, the Directorate has to have regard for the relevant ruling.

In Antagolin / SJ Goldstein / 22891 (28 February 2014), the Directorate considered a television commercial for the respondent’s Antagolin product. This ruling summarises the complaint as follows:

“The complainant submitted, in essence, that there is no evidence that the product with its ingredient mix has any benefits as made in the claims. She explained that the ingredients listed for the product have been scarcely researched, and are potentially toxic. The dosage used in the product is also well below what was researched.”

It is noted that this is very similar to the basis of objection raised by Dr Steinman in the current complaint. In rejecting the evidence relied on by the respondent, the Directorate noted, inter alia, as follows:

“As matters currently stand, the substantiation is lacking for the following reasons:

Nothing before the Directorate appears to relate to the product as a whole as advertised and sold to consumers, and

No unequivocal verification from an independent and credible expert has been presented to show that the claims are true for the product as a whole when used at the recommended dose”.

The respondent was instructed to withdraw the claim “Antagolin combats insulin resistance and will help you to lose weight effectively” with immediate effect, and to refrain from using it unless new substantiation had been submitted and accepted in terms of Clause 4.1.7 of Section II of the Code. It is this ruling, and more particularly the instruction to withdraw the claim that the respondent now confirms its intention to abide by.

If one considers the overall message and takeout of the current advertising, it effectively communicates two things:

That Antagolin combats insulin resistance, and

That Antagolin helps you lose weight.

The Directorate is satisfied that these two claims are encapsulated in the claim previously ruled on, and as such, the respondent’s undertaking to abide by the previous ruling (which requires the removal of this claim) appears to adequately address the concerns raised by Dr Steinman.

The undertaking is accepted on condition that the advertising objected to, and more specifically all claims that imply an ability to combat insulin resistance and to assist in weight loss, are not used again in future until such time as adequate substantiation has been submitted and evaluated, and a new Directorate ruling has been issued on the matter.

The respondent’s attention is specifically drawn to the provisions of Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide, which effectively requires it to withdraw any and all advertising where such claims are made.

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