ASA Ruling: Faith Drops (Damaansa) / TAC

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The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) laid a complaint with the ASA against FAITH drops, which claims to be able to cure AIDS, cancer, and a number of other conditions.

How did the ASA rule?

 

 

DAMAANSA HOLDINGS / TAC / 15466

Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
The Treatment Action Campaign t/a TACComplainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Damaansa Holdings (Pty) LtdRespondent

30 Aug 2010

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5269

Ms Catherin Tomlinson, on behalf of the TAC lodged a consumer complaint against Damaansa Holdings’ Internet advertisements promoting “FaithTM” Drops. The advertisements were published at http://immune-booster.synthasite.com and www.cancercure.co.za.

The advertisement at http://immune-booster.synthasite.com claims, inter alia, that:

“Clinical studies indicated that there are significant improvements in patients suffering from:-

? Malaria
? Tuberculosis
? Cholera
? HIV
? Hepatitis A, B, & C
? Diabetes
? Peptic Ulcer
? Asthma
? Cancer…”

The advertisement at www.cancercure.co.za claims, inter alia, that “…Patients with various diseases from Malaria, AIDS, Cancer, TB, Hepatitis A,B and C, to name but few, have been successfully treated whilst supplementing their allopathic medicines with FAITHTM Drops”. Furthermore, under a link “AIDS” it states, inter alia, “Faith™ Drops is invaluable. Faith drops reduces the viral load to levels that are undetected in the bloodstream thereby allowing the body to naturally, through a balanced healthy diet restore and increase the CD-4 count thus totally controlling the HIV virus and not only putting it to sleep. We do not change the status of the patient from positive to negative but we stop the virus from replicating itself any further.”

This website also has a link to its “Registration Documents”.

COMPLAINT

The complainant submitted, inter alia, that:

? The respondent claims that the advertised product is registered with Medicines Control Council (MCC) whereas such registration does not appear on the MCC’s webpage.

? The product is promoted without any scientific backing and that the advertisements are in breach of Appendix F of the Code.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

The complainant stated that Appendix F of the Code is relevant to the complaint.

RESPONSE

The respondent submitted that all its material is clear in that it does not purport to cure anything. The product is indeed registered with the MCC as a herbal supplement, which means no in vitro or in vivo studies are required. In addition, it attached the following documents:

? An internal selection of testimonials, case studies and laboratory reports.

? A copy of form “MBR20.8” emanating from the Medicines Control Council.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

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

Medicinal products cannot be treated as an ordinary general commodity. They have the potential for having harmful effects as well as beneficial effects and can cause serious problems if not used safely. For this reason, there are specific regulations that strictly control the advertising and promotion of medicinal products.

The scope of this ruling is limited to the subject matter of the complaint brought to the ASA, namely whether the advertisement are in breach of the cited clause of the Code. The ASA is not able or authorised to rule on the quality or safety of the product in question, and this ruling must be interpreted and applied accordingly.

Registration with the MCC

The complainant submitted that the claim that the advertised product is registered with Medicines Control Council is untrue as such registration does not appear on the MCC’s webpage.

The respondent attached a copy of form “MBR20.8” emanating from the Medicines Control Council.

The Directorate dealt with a similar situation in Comfrey Capsules / The Pharmaceutical Society Of SA / 9092 (21 June 2007). In that matter, the respondent submitted a form MBR 20.8 document as “proof” of registration of the product with the MCC. The Directorate approached the MCC for clarification. The MCC indicated as follows:

“[The] call-up Notice for Complementary Medicines dated February 2002 makes provision for an applicant wishing to sell a so-called complementary medicine to submit certain information to the [MCC] for evaluation… On application to the [MCC], an acknowledgement letter with an acknowledgement number is issued to the applicant. This number will enable the Council to trace the documentation in future.”

The Directorate held that, in light of this, it was clear that the document submitted by the respondent was proof of its application in terms of the Call-up Notice for Complementary Medicines, and that it was not a certificate of registration.

For the reasons explained above, the Directorate cannot accept the submitted form as proof of registration with the MCC.

Merits

The complainant submitted that the product is promoted without any scientific backing and that the advertisements are in breach of Appendix F of the Code.

Appendix F stipulates, inter alia, that advertisement should not offer products, treatment or advice for the listed illnesses unless such recommendations accord with a full product registration by the MCC.

The list of conditions contained in Appendix F includes, inter alia, “Asthma”, “Diabetes”, “Cancer”, “Tuberculosis” and “Ulcers (All except mouth ulcers). These are some of the conditions referred to in the advertisements with an implication that the respondent’s product offers relief and treatment. It has, however, already been established that the respondent’s product is not registered or approved by the MCC.

In addition, the Directorate is not swayed by the fact that the respondent mentions in selected sections of its website that this product cannot heal or cure. The overwhelming impression created by the main section as well as the sections dealing with each individually identified disease is that this product would deliver very beneficial health benefits to all who suffer from such a disease. This clearly qualifies as offering “products, treatment or advice” for these conditions, something which is clearly not allowed in terms of Appendix F for unregistered products such as this.

In addition, Clause 2 of Appendix F contains the same provision for making recommendations or offering treatments, products or advice for AIDS. It states that unless such recommendations accord with full product registration and approval, it is an educational or information campaign to the lay public by Government Institutions or bodies recognised by the ASA to run such campaigns; or is for a product not registerable with the MCC, in which case the normal provisions of the Code apply; no reference to AIDS may be made.

Given that none of these exclusions appear to apply in this instance, the respondent is not entitled to make any reference to AIDS in this manner.

Accordingly, the respondent’s advertisements are in breach of Appendix F of the Code.

The respondent is therefore required to:
 

  • Withdraw the advertisements insofar as references are made to Asthma”, “Diabetes”, “Cancer”, “Tuberculosis”, “Ulcers (All except mouth ulcers)” and “AIDS”;
     
  • The process to withdraw the advertisements must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of this ruling;
     
  • The withdrawal of the advertisements must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide;
     
  • The advertisements may not be used again in their current format in future.

The complaint is upheld.

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12 Responses to ASA Ruling: Faith Drops (Damaansa) / TAC

  1. Colleen 14 September, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    would like to clarify some of your statements. the website immune-booster.synthacite.com is not one of our websites.  The person has been told to remove the site.
    We never sent the TAC

  2. Colleen 14 September, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    We never sent the TAC ANY case studies – they did not request any nor did they request us to provide them with any clinical studies or ANY research of any kind- be they DOT programms or anecdotal reports.  Our product has been LISTED with the MCC for quite a few years.  The TAC automatically assumed that as it is a herbal/alternative medicine and that clinical trials etc are not required – (as is the case in just about every country in the world including the FDA in the USA) that we have not done any research on our product.  Perhaps they were too hasty in assuming anything.  Please also note that the editor of this site needs to bear in mind is that the TAC themselves did a study on alternative / traditional / herbal medicines and confirmed that the MCC is in excess of 60thousand applications in arrears.  They currently do not have the manpower to handle or process any of the applications as there are no guidelines for anything let alone clinical trials in place for complimentary/alternative/traditional/herbal medicines.  The editor of this site is also making assumptions.  You know what they say about assumptions….
    The law currently in S.A. has a list as long as my arm that may not be linked to advertising in any way unless the product is REGISTERED with the MCC and then only if they have clinical trials to support their claims.  Form and function claims we agree should be supported by research material, however, the law should be applied to everyone and not just a select few.   If the TAC cares to do some basic research on the net they will see many sites in ZA that claim to do many things…..   We reiterate, we did not claim to cure anything – we claim only that the body is put into a position where it is able to heal itself.

  3. Harris 14 September, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Note readers: 

    1. I suspect that this product is NOT registered with the MCC – all that FAITH drops have is a receipt number, i.e., they submitted documents to the MCC who issued a receipt number. @Colleen, please supply your proof of registration and I will gladly post the proof in support of your claim to this page.

    2. There is no evidence (except "anecdotal" reports) to show whether this product works or not.

  4. Nathan Geffen 14 September, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    There are several misunderstandings in the comment by Colleen.
    A. As Harris points out, Faith Drops is not a product registered as a treatment for HIV/AIDS by the MCC. Only antiretrovirals are.
    B. The basis of our complaint was that the Faith Drops ad breached appendix F of the ASASA code which states, "Advertisements should not make any recommendations or offer products, treatments, or advice for any of the following illnesses or conditions unless-

    2.1 the recommendations accord with full product registration by the Medicines Control Council; or

    2.2 such advertising is an educational or information campaign addressed to the lay public by Government Institutions or bodies recognised by the ASA to run such campaigns; or

    2.3 the advertising is for products not registrable with the MCC in which case the advertising is subject to the normal provisions of the Code of Advertising Practice.

    AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)"
    C. Colleen writes, "If the TAC cares to do some basic research on the net they will see many sites in ZA that claim to do many things….." We are fully aware of the proliferation of unproven claims and have written about the problem many times. We have successfully lodged complaints against several other products. Unfortunately there is only so much we can do. Because others are breaking the advertising code, does not give FAITH Drops the right to break it.

  5. Harris 15 September, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    For some reason (fault with the blog?), Colleen's latest posting does not appear here. It read:

    "To: Nathan Geffen
    I have no misunderstandings whatsoever. I am fully aware of what the law states – I was directed to that section by the ASA very clearly.  At no time did I make the statement that as others are illegally advertising that I should be allowed to – that is a preposterous statement and Mr. Geffen is putting words into my mouth. I merely stated that the law should be applied equally to ALL. I further point out that the TAC are aware of the MCC's inability to process the LIST of applications for REGISTRATION due to a lack of manpower.  The problem however goes beyond just a manpower problem – as they are clearly aware."

    I would like to point out  that readers are free to read the different points of view expressed on this site, and it will be clear which makes more sense or not. Compare the point of view of someone who has no financial interest in the product with that of someone who has. Readers will also note that Colleen's claim that the product is registered with the MCC has not been supported by any documentation. Readers will also be aware that if FAITH drops could cure AIDS, this will be a world first for no other product has been shown to have a curative effect. "Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence."

  6. Harris 15 September, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    One very important point: For the MCC to register ANY product, including FAITH drops, it requires PROOF of safety and efficacy. FAITH drops are unable to supply either (in the manner that the MCC requires). For example, anecdotal reports are NOT accepted by the MCC. (I have discussed this with someone involved with the MCC). Therefore the hope that this product will be registered is zero. (If there was evidence, Faith drops would have submitted these to the ASA – they did not).

  7. Roy Jobson 16 September, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    @ Colleen
    As a former Council member of the MCC and then a member of the Complementary Medicines Committee (CMC) of the MCC, I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge the MCC does not have a LIST of applications for REGISTRATION. (your emphases) There is only a database of responses to the complementary medicines call up of 2002, which categorically states that it does not constitute a complete application for registration. It was intended as a 6 month audit which has extended to more than 8 years. The MCC database does not include any information about safety, quality and efficacy, and the products in it are not assessed for any of these requirements (which is the statutory duty of the MCC — and no one else!). According to a Health Products Association (HPA) newsletter the 2002 call up was rescinded in part over a year ago — but the HPA (Chairperson: Alan Tomlinson) and others have appealed this decision of the MCC to rescind the call up.
    I would be very willing to critically evaluate (for free) any clinical research done on your product(s) including Faith Drops, if you wish to share that research with me. If it is confidential information, I promise to keep it confidential.
    BTW: Virtually every legitimate medicine puts the body into a position where it is able to heal itself. The most dramatic modern example of this must surely be the antiretrovirals — which assist the body in healing itself despite being unable to cure AIDS.

  8. Harris 18 September, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Colleen has posted a very long response. Considering its length, it has been posted as a proper individual posting, interspersed with my comments: http://www.camcheck.co.za/faith-drops-in-response/

  9. Bongani 19 September, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    The way the Tac are supporting the ARV’s and kicking out all other alternative medicines, you will swear someone is paying them to do that (or is there someone out there that we dont know?) I know that irrespective of how good an alternative medicine is, as long as it is going to take the profit that pharmaceutical componies are making from ARV’s, it will never be approved by the FDA or our south african version of the FDA. Come to think of it, the Tac never made noise about the fact that this money spinner called Arv’s was taken from a reject shelf after it was halted as a chemotherapy medicine for cancer because it was found to be too toxic. Who is fooling who here, i’d rather take faithdrops and be killed (if it kills) by it if i were an Aids sufferer than to enrich some rich barstard (at the expense of my bone marrow) who doesn’t care about my health at all.

  10. Harris 20 September, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    Bongani brings up a common misconception. The TAC are not supporting ARVs and kicking out alternative medicines – they are arguing for PROOF that a product works before being used. If an alternative medicine is proven to work, I can bet you that they will support that product. If there is PROOF that an alternative medicine works, the FDA and the South African version (MCC) will approve it. ARVs can have side effects in some people (not all) – the TAC have never denied it (as far as I know). They simply say that taking a medicine with a risk of side effects and living a productive life, is better than taking nothing, or a product with no proof of working or a scam, and dying! 

    Bongani also raises the misconception that Big Pharma are rich bastards and alternative products are not – both try very hard to make profit! That is the bottom line for both. Alternative medicine in South Africa is a 5 Billion rand industry and alternative medicines are now also sold by Big Pharma! 

    Bongani, the Constitution gives you the freedom to make the choice between taking a medicine that has been proven to keep you alive (with a chance of side effects), or an unproven product that may result in your death (thanks to inaction by the MCC). If it was your child, would you recommend her to take a medicine with NO PROOF that it works? In other words, to take a product that may be a scam and nothing more?

  11. LeadWrist 15 October, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I have someone who took Faith Drops AKA MMS and it didn’t work. Though they still believe it did after it took chemo and surgery to resolve. Latest news on this, Canada banned it apparently… http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/15/miracle-mineral-solutions-mms-bleach

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