Cardioflow Pomegrante – ASA ruling

,

Posted 24 April 2013

The Fountainhead sells a number of scam/unsubstantiated products. One of these is Cardioflow Pomegranate. This product makes a number of claims which have never been shown to be true. In fact, the USA Federal Commission has fined companies in the USA for making similar claims. In this complaint, a consumer argued that the company was in breach of a previous ruling. The ASA disagreed. A new complaint has been laid against the new claims. See the argument against the claims below this ruling.

Cardioflow Pomegrante / HA Steinman / 14804
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
The Fountainhead (Pty) Ltd Respondent

10 Apr 2013
http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6497
BACKGROUND
In Cardio Flow Pomegranate / H A Steinman / 14804 (11 December 2009) the Directorate ruled that the claim “A whopping 500mg of pomegranate extracts that provide a huge amount of anti-oxidants shown to be particularly good for your skin’s condition. Pomegranate also increases your skin’s SPF factor naturally. An effective anti-cancer and cardiovascular supplement” was unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code. By virtue of this, the claim was also held to be misleading and in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.

The respondent was instructed to withdraw the claim within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and not to use it again in future.

SUBSEQUENT TO THE RULING
On 21 January 2013 the complainant lodged a breach complaint against the respondent’s website advertisement for Fountainhead CardioFlow Pomegranate Dietary Supplement.

It was submitted that the website, www.thefountainhead.co.za, continued to claim that this product is effective for the following:

“Lowers Cholesterol & Prevents Heart Disease*
Reduces fatty deposits on artery walls*
Reduces blood pressure*
Lowers Blood sugar*
Reduces cell damage
Slows cartilage deterioration and osteoarthritis
May prevent the return of prostate cancer after surgery
Contains three times the antioxidant ability of red wine, green tea, cranberry juice and orange juice
Great source of potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols
Promotes a healthy heart”.

The complainant argued that this is in breach of the previous ruling. He requested sanctions to be imposed on the respondent for flagrantly ignoring the Directorate’s previous ruling.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the breach allegation the Directorate considered Clause 15 of the Procedural Guide (Enforcement of rulings) as relevant.

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted, inter alia, that it had changed, with immediate effect, on its website the heading “Benefits of Fountainhead CardioFlow” to “Benefits Associated with Pomegranate” which was a genuine oversight as the rest of the website always refers to pomegranates and not its product specifically. It emphasised the statement that its product “is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease” and that “All information contained herein is not intended in any way as medical advice. Testimonials are given by people who wish to share their experiences and are solely for information purposes. This should not be considered medical advice”.

The respondent further argued that it is completely financially unfeasible for any health products or herbal supplementation company to do research on a herbal medicine specifically for its own product such as CardioFlow, as natural herbal remedies may not be patented, which is why no pharmaceutical company is generally interested in researching or marketing natural herbal/food supplements and why companies market their product based on ingredients.

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

Clause 3.6 of Section I of the Code states “When objections in respect of advertisements that were amended resulting from an ASA ruling are received, both the original and amended version will be taken into consideration”.

The essential question before the Directorate is whether or not the respondent’s advertisement is in breach of the original ruling. For this to be the case, the respondent would have to be making the same, or materially similar claims to those originally complained of.

The original ruling only considered the claim “A whopping 500mg of pomegranate extracts that provide a huge amount of anti-oxidants shown to be particularly good for your skin’s condition. Pomegranate also increases your skin’s SPF factor naturally. An effective anti-cancer and cardiovascular supplement”.

The current website advertising material on www.thefountainhead.co.za, contains the following,

“Lowers Cholesterol & Prevents Heart Disease*
Reduces fatty deposits on artery walls*
Reduces blood pressure*
Lowers Blood sugar*
Reduces cell damage
Slows cartilage deterioration and osteoarthritis
May prevent the return of prostate cancer after surgery
Contains three times the antioxidant ability of red wine, green tea, cranberry juice and orange juice
Great source of potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols
Promotes a healthy heart”.

Clearly the current claims are not the same or substantially similar to an extent that would constitute a breach. No mention is made of dosage, skin condition, SPF factor or anti-cancer efficacy, and objectively speaking, the “new” claims do not convey a message comparable to the original claim.

For the above reasons, the current advertisement cannot be said to be in breach of the original ruling.

The breach allegation is therefore dismissed.

***********************************

Dear Sir/Madam, 

Re: Cardio Flow Pomegranate – New complaint

At http://www.thefountainhead.co.za/cardioflowabout.asp the company makes the claims that this product is effective for the following: 

  • Lowers Cholesterol & Prevents Heart Disease*
  • Reduces fatty deposits on artery walls*
  • Reduces blood pressure*
  • Lowers Blood sugar*
  • Reduces cell damage
  • Slows cartilage deterioration and osteoarthritis
  • May prevent the return of prostate cancer after surgery
  • Contains three times the antioxidant ability of red wine, green tea, cranberry juice and jrange juice
  • Great source of potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols
  • Promotes a healthy heart 

An automatic voice activated sound clip states the following:

“With so many products claiming to keep your health healthy, how do you know which one really works. The truth is, you don’t. However if you shop around and ask your pharmacist, you will discover Cardioflow. Cardioflow not only helps to increase your blood flow and keep your heart healthy, it delivers potent pomegranate antioxidants which helps your heart by reducing fatty deposits on artery walls. Cardioflow is also a powerful and natural anticancer agent. To find out more, visit thefountainhead.co.za.” 

It is clear that a range of claims made in the sound clip, and the first seven claims in the list above, are able of objective substantiation, and do require to be substantiated for else the claims are false and highly misleading, if not even fraudulent. Furthermore, the sound clip claims that pharmacists recommend Cardioflow, therefore aiming to induce the consumer into believing that the claims being made for this product are reasonable, true and supported by pharmacists. This also requires substantiation. 

In fact, on the 16th January 2013, the Federal Trade Commission upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s decision that the marketers of pomegranate juice and pomegranate supplements deceptively advertised their products and did not have adequate support for claims that “the products could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, and that they were clinically proven to work.” http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/01/pom.shtm 

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (“Unbiased, Scientific Clinical Information on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies”) (http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/), previously vouched for by complementary medicine adherents, states for the efficacy of pomegranate: 

Effectiveness: 

POSSIBLY INEFFECTIVE

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Drinking pomegranate juice 400 mL daily for 5 weeks does not seem to improve symptoms or respiratory function in patients with COPD (13692).

INSUFFICIENT RELIABLE EVIDENCE to RATE

Atherosclerosis. Preliminary evidence suggests that patients who consume 50 mL/day of pomegranate juice have reduced intima-media thickness of the carotid artery by up to 35% after one year (13023).

Coronary heart disease. Preliminary clinical research shows that drinking pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful) 240 mL daily for 3 months decreases stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary heart disease. The average improvement in myocardial perfusion was about 17% with pomegranate juice compared with an 18% worsening of myocardial perfusion in patients treated with placebo (13691). However, other preliminary clinical research shows that drinking pomegranate juice (POM Wonderful) 240 mL daily does not significantly reduce coronary stenosis as measured by carotid intima-media thickness compared to control after 18 months of treatment in patients with moderate coronary heart disease risk (17329). It is not known if drinking pomegranate juice can prevent or reduce the risk of a myocardial infarction or other cardiovascular outcomes.

Hyperlipidemia. There is preliminary evidence that drinking concentrated pomegranate juice 40 grams/day can significantly reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in patients with hyperlipidemia and type 2 diabetes (13022); however, other preliminary research in patients with and without type 2 diabetes suggests that consuming pomegranate 50 mL/day has no effect on total or LDL cholesterol (13023,13690). Pomegranate does not seem to affect triglycerides or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (13022,13023,13690).

Hypertension. There is preliminary evidence that drinking pomegranate juice 50 mL/day for up to 1 year can reduce systolic blood pressure by 5% to 21% (8310,13023). But it does not seem to effect diastolic pressure (13023). Contradictory research shows no effect on blood pressure when doses of 240 mL daily are consumed for 3 months (13691).

Periodontitis. Preliminary clinical research suggests that locally applied pomegranate fruit peel extract in combination with gotu kola extract might improve periodontal disease (13688).

Prostate cancer. Preliminary clinical research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice might slow prostate cancer progression. After surgery or radiation for prostate cancer, the length of time to doubling of prostate specific antigen (PSA) was significantly longer in men who drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for up to 2 years (14137,14388).

Stomatitis. A gel containing the extract of pomegranate fruit peel applied to the gums of patients with candidiasis associated with denture stomatitis 3 times daily for 15 days seems to be as effective as miconazole gel (not available in the US) as a topical antifungal agent (13689).

 More evidence is needed to rate pomegranate for these uses. 

Clause 4.1 of Section II of the ASA’s Code states “Before advertising is published, advertisers shall hold in their possession documentary evidence as set out in Clause 4.1, to support all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.” 

and 

“Documentary evidence, other than survey data, shall emanate from or be evaluated by a person/entity, which is independent, credible, and an expert in the particular field to which the claims relate and be acceptable to the ASA”. 

It is therefore clear that there is insufficient evidence in support for the claims being made for this product: scientists from the credible NMCD and Federal Trade Commission argue that the evidence in support of the claims for pomegranate products cannot be sustained by sufficient evidence, and therefore that the claims for this pomegranate and Cardioflow as well, are highly misleading to the average consumer. 

Sincerely,

,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.