Posted 08 April 2018
Herbex has responded to the recent ASA ruling by issuing a media statement.
This post is in 3 parts:
1. A Times Live article reflecting on Herbex’s media statement
2. Herbex’s media release
3. Comment on the release
ASA not mandated to comment on ‘complementary medicine’: Herbex
Herbex has slammed the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)‚ charging that it is not mandated to comment on “complementary medicine”.
Herbex made the statement on Friday after the ASA found its weight loss claims in a television commercial were unsubstantiated.
Consumer activist Dr Harris Steinman complained about the commercial for its product Fat Attack. It features the testimonial of one Lindsay who claimed she lost 43kg since 2006 using Herbex slimmers.
“I have kept the weight off for 10 years. Herbex has completely changed my life. I am more confident and feel like I can do anything.”
The commercial then shows before and after photos of Lindsay.
“I am finally living the life I have always wanted to. Do you know what that does to your confidence‚ your health and your energy levels? My health dramatically improved in the last 10 years. So‚ if you want to lose weight and keep it off‚ get Herbex. Start today.”
WATCH | Herbex Advertisement
Dischem‚ Clicks and Spar are some of the stores that sell Herbex products.
The managing director of Herbex holding company Newgroup Holdings‚ Eddie Bisset‚ said the ASA was not mandated by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) (formerly Medicines Control Council) to examine “complementary medicines”.
He added that the company’s testimonials were “real and factual and supported by an affidavit signed by the featured customers”. “Our products are carefully researched and formulated by industry professionals before going to market.”
Steinman said there was no evidence that Fat Attack led to weight loss and that‚ if it existed‚ a testimonial did not represent the majority of Fat Attack consumers.
He referred to foreign legislation about the standards of testimonials in advertising. He said truthful testimonials must point out the product only worked for some consumers‚ that weight loss was unlikely‚ must be used with a calorie-restricted diet and exercise or it would likely have no effect.
Herbex is not a member of the ASA and said it would not submit to its jurisdiction.
The ASA code says testimonials should not claim efficacy which cannot “justifiably” be attributed to the use of the product and that results should be “fairly” presented. “Before” and “after” claims should be substantiated and illustrated in such a way that a “fair” comparison can be made.
Herbex stands by personal testimonials despite ASA ruling
With a proud 25-year history of supplying health and slimming products to South African consumers, Herbex Health boasts many success stories from individuals who have used their products to lose weight, and keep it off.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week banned a Herbex advert featuring a personal customer testimonial, claiming it misrepresented the weight loss efficacy of the product.
Eddie Bisset, Managing Director of Herbex holding company, Newgroup Holdings, said the company’s many testimonials were “real and factual and supported by an affidavit signed by the featured customers”.
“The ASA has not been mandated by the former Medicines Control Council – now the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) – to assess the efficacy or safety of complementary medicines.
“Our products are carefully researched and formulated by industry professionals before going to market, and all manufacturers are GMP compliant and properly certificated,” Bisset said.
Herbex has submitted product information to SAHPRA for registration as per a 2015 request.
Bisset said Herbex was committed to servicing customers and supplying products which would improve and enrich their lives.
The Herbex customer care line, on 021 709 6600, is available to address any consumer concerns during business hours.
For more information please contact Eddie Bisset, MD of Newgroup Holdings, on 021 709 6600.
We have argued for all these years that there is NO evidence that Herbex products have any effect on weight loss.
We have consistently pointed out that
a.) not a single study has been done on a single Herbex product, and
b.) the ingredients of the products have either never ever been used for weight-loss, or been shown to be ineffective at high dosages with Herbex using them at ridiculously low dosages. For example, Herbex Attack the Fat:
Green tea: Herbex uses 1.7 mg/day. Studies have shown it ineffective using 270 mg to 1200 mg/day.
Garcinia: Herbex uses 1.7 mg/day. Studies have shown it ineffective using 1,000 mg – 5,000 mg per day!
Herbex relies on the fact that the MCC/SAHPRA is doing nothing to police or enforce Complementary Medicine regulations. In other words, if the ASA took no action, no-one else would and Herbex can act in a vacuum. As it is, Herbex products are NOT registered by the MCC/SAHPRA, i.e., have not been assessed for efficacy, safety or quality. Herbex could be selling sea sand as a weight-loss product and get away with it because of the regulatory vacuum.
“Herbex Health boasts many success stories from individuals who have used their products to lose weight, and keep it off“.
Without evidence, this could be simply a placebo response (and probably is).
A well known study of 114 obese individuals assessed a sham weight-loss supplement for 12 weeks. One individual lost over 29 Kg with a placebo. Testimonials need to be based on proper evidence, and not a belief – even if “supported by an affidavit signed by the featured customers”. Individuals who really believe that they were abducted by aliens, would also “support this claim by an affidavit signed by . .”
“Our products are carefully researched and formulated by industry professionals before going to market“.
Highly unlikely, knowing the constituents and the dosages.
We know who some of these ‘professionals’ are, who ‘formulates’ some of these products, and how – thank goodness for whistle-blowers. From our experience, over years in combating scam and unsubstantiated products, we know that there are ‘experts’ and ‘professionals’ who are prepared to substantiate these products, either for financial gain or incompetence. Some knowingly lie. We know of at least 4 professors, a number of doctors, and a range of other ‘experts’ who have done so.
“Herbex has submitted product information to SAHPRA for registration”
This does not mean the product will acquire registration, simply that a dossier has been submitted. Many products fail registration. Considering that SAHPRA do not inform the public which products have failed, we would not know. Worse, SAHPRA does not ‘fail’ a product; it continues to request further information until the company knows that no further information will result in registration and puts the process “on hold”.
We challenge Herbex to accept this proposal
Herbex earns around R 3 million per month for this product. We challenge Eddie Bisset to spend a tiny part of this on a robust credible study to confirm his claims. I bet he will not, for he himself suspects or knows that the evidence will not.
Update 10 April 2018: Times Live has reported on this post and our comments