Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa placed into Business Rescue.

Posted 15 November 2016

It is sad to read that thanks to, among other, legal action by Herbex, Antagolin, USN, Homemark and others, challenging the ASA’s jurisdiction, has had a major impact on the operating funds of the ASA. Even the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPA) has not renewed its membership. This has resulted in the ASA having to be placed into Business Rescue. As documented on CamCheck, these companies are responsible for selling products with little or no evidence of efficacy to consumers. The ASA’s role has been to prevent South African consumers from being duped by companies making false claims, and therefore defrauding consumers.  All of the companies are represented by the lawyer, Saul Shoot of Fluxmans.

It must be noted that the court cases have not challenged the ASA’s rulings on the merits of the advertising. It’s been more of an issue … Read the rest

Homemark Fat Freezer

Posted 24 October 2016

Homemark Fat FreezerPROSHOCK ICE Ice shock LIPOlysis

Homemark sells a product called Homemark Igia Fat Freezer.

Homemark makes the following claims for the product:

“A non-invasive alternative to convectional liposuction, cryolipolysis uses cold to break down fat cells without damage to other tissues. Fat cells are cooled into the negative temperatures, causing them to break up and be disposed of though the body’s own lymphatic system, resulting in a more toned and sleek appearance. Sculpt your body by freezing your fat cells. Lose an average 20% of your fat cells in the treated area with just one application a month”.

The claims for this product is simply nonsense. A complaint (see below) was laid against the claims for this product with the ASA in February 2014. Saul Shoot of Fluxmans, acting on behalf of Homemark, has prevented the ASA assessing this … Read the rest

Stronger oversight may protect South Africans from misleading advertising

Posted 23 August 2016

An article by Dr Rudi de Lange, Associate Professor in Visual Communication, Tshwane University of Technology, published on August 16, 2016 to The Conversation.

Stronger oversight may protect South Africans from misleading advertising

South Africa has an effective and functioning advertising self-regulator. But it doesn’t always work as it should. The self-regulatory regime in place cannot do enough to protect consumers because it is based on the willing cooperation of advertisers.

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa’s (ASASA) Advertising Code of Practice requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest and truthful. It is based on an international code and is similar to advertising codes in most developed and developing countries, such as the UK, Australia and Malaysia. But ASASA is not a statutory body and it does not have the teeth to enforce its rulings on non-members. It cannot impose penalties on advertisers and … Read the rest

GroundUp Op-Ed: Complementary medicine companies are destroying consumer protection

Posted 31 May 2016

First published by GroundUp

What do these have in common?

  • Herbex Attack the Fat Syrup will help you lose weight.
  • Solal’s anti-ageing pill can increase your lifespan and improve heart function.
  • Antagolin combats insulin resistance and will help you to lose weight effectively.
  • USN’s Tribulus is a “testosterone booster” and “libido enhancer”.

They’re all claims by complementary medicine companies about products they sell. All of them are at best misleading, not properly tested and probably false. All were ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

And all four of these companies are doing their utmost to destroy the ASA. They may have succeeded, which means there is little protection left for consumers from misleading or unsubstantiated medical claims.

Read the rest

Beware of Illegally Marketed Diabetes Treatments

Posted 30 April 2016

We have previously written about the MCC claiming that they will be taking action against “scores of illegal products claiming to treat diabetes, heart disease, cancer and viral illnesses in a blitz aimed at enforcing tough regulations for complementary medicines”. Products claiming to be effective in insulin control or diabetes, had to apply for registration. They will be evaluated to see whether their claims are justified, and the product safe, before registration is granted. Else they have to disappear from the market. Products that have applied for registration include the Medical Nutritional Institute’s AntaGolin, Brunel Laboratories’ Patrick Holford Cinnamon and Avid Brands’ Bioharmony Cinnabalance. We have argued that Antagolin’s evidence is problematic, and that the ingredients and dose in Holford’s Cinnamon inadequate to support their claims. We wait the MCC’s decision.

The U.S.A. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have released a media release warning against … Read the rest

Court action: Herbex vs ASA

Posted 15 May 2016

As a consumer, do you care about whether or not the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has “jurisdiction” over the advertising of a product or a company selling certain products? Or do you want to be sure that the advertising is not false and misleading, so that you don’t waste your hard-earned money?

In court judgement dated 5 May, the Gauteng local division of the High Court ruled that the ASA had no jurisdiction over Herbex, because Herbex was not a member of the ASA. The overriding issue of interest to consumers is not about jurisdiction, but about whether or not the products work as claimed in the advertising. The issue of “effectiveness” was not included in the court challenge. However the EFFECT of the jurisdiction ruling, has left the issue of the effectiveness of the products (and their advertising) unaddressed. The previous rulings of the … Read the rest

Crackdown looms on complementary medicinal products

Posted 09 May 2016

This article by Tamar Kahn in Business Day Live, reports on the MCC claiming to be gearing up to seize “scores of illegal products claiming to treat diabetes, heart disease, cancer and viral illnesses”. The complementary medicines regulations, which were gazetted on November 15 2013, allowed firms to continue selling complementary medicines until they were called up for assessment by the council, starting with those deemed most risky. Only those that applied for registration as a CAM may continue to be sold until their submission has been assessed, and accepted or rejected. What is remarkable is how few complementary medicines have been submitted for registration.

The report quotes Mr Norman Fels, Chairperson of the Health Products Association (HPA), as stating that “the low response rate from the industry suggested companies were experiencing problems with the process, rather than ignoring the regulations”. However, several … Read the rest

Open season for snake oil salesmen?

Posted 23 November 2015

This article written by patent attorney, Hans Muhlberg, is reproduced here with permission from the author.

Open season for snake oil salesmen?

Does the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa  (ASA) have the jurisdiction to rule on adverts placed by companies that aren’t members of the ASA?

If you’re involved in ASA matters, you’ll know that it’s not uncommon for the ASA to rule on such ads. You’ll also know that these rulings tend to be effective, despite the fact that the ASA is a voluntary body, whose rulings are only binding on its members. The reason is simple –  the SA media companies (electronic, TV, print, billboard) belong to the ASA, which means that as soon as the ASA rules that an ad contravenes the ASA Code (by making unsubstantiated claims for example), the media companies refuse to touch the ad. So the ad’s … Read the rest

Power Report: Watchdog in chains as advertiser fights back

Posted 17 November 2015

This article, written by Megan Power, appeared in the Sunday Times of 15 November 2015. [Permission to republish it was kindly granted by the Sunday Times.]

The article highlights the legal actions of Antagolin (MNI), Herbex, Solal and USN, against the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), as well as against Dr Harris Steinman. Megan Power makes the accurate point: “There’s a quiet war being waged against South Africa’s advertising watchdog“. All these companies have had ASA rulings against claims for their products. See also the previous article about this.

Homemark has in the meantime persuaded the ASA to suspend all processes and procedures regarding complaints against Homemark, until the MNI appeal, or the actual court case is concluded, depending which happens first. All these companies are being represented by Saul Shoot of Fluxmans.

Watchdog in chains as advertiser fights back Court ruling against advertising authority Read the rest

D-day for complementary weight loss medicines?

On 15 November 2013 the Minister of Health finally published Regulations to the Medicines Act (Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act 101 of 1965), not for comment, but for implementation. They defined complementary medicines for the first time in South Africa. In addition the Regulations incrementally “called up” various complementary medicines over the following six years.

If a product that has been called up, and has not been registered, or an application for registration has not been received by the MCC, then according to the Medicines Act (Section 14(1)) it may no longer be sold.

The Regulations also created a new category of medicines – category D – which are complementary medicines “subdivided into such disciplines as may be determined by the Council after consultation with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa.”

This left “dietary supplements” out in the cold and the Health Products Association … Read the rest