USN, Herbex, Antagolin, Solal and Vigro (Nativa) go to court to block ASA

Posted 06 October 2015

This article, below, published in Times Live, draws attention to Vigro (a Natura product) trying to prevent arbitration on whether the claims that the product can regrow hair was supported by adequate evidence. The ASA ruled against the claims, and following an appeal by Natura, was referred for arbitration to Prof Nonhlanhla Khumalo, head of the Department of Dermatology, University of Cape Town.

The article also highlights USN’s High Court Action against Dr Harris Steinman. USN alleges that Steinman had defamed them. Steinman is defending the action. More than 40 complaints have been laid against USN with the ASA.

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Vigro – Mr Knowlton’s substantiation

This is Mr Knowlton’s arguments why Vigro’s claims are justified.

It is essential for readers to appreciate that there are a number of important and valid constraints when evaluating evidence. For example, internal company studies are not given the same value as when published in peer-reviewed publications for obvious reasons: can one believe the company’s data? Was it correctly interpreted? And so on.

A very critical point that readers should consider is this: if one takes on ingredient (proven to work or not) and adds it to a another product which contains a number of ingredients, does the original ingredient still have the exact same efficacy. For example, taking hydrochloric acid (HCl) and adding it to sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and flour in a particular order and dose, may result either in the flour first being denatured by the hydrochloric acid – before the last item is added. However if one

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Vigro – ASA agrees, no evidence it works!

Posted 10 October 2013

Consumers have a right to expect reasonable proof that a product delivers on its claims.

Natura, the maker of “famous” homeopathic remedies, purchased the Vigro product from PSN Brands, and ignoring the previous ASA ruling which found that Vigro was only beneficial for a very specific form of hair loss, started advertising that it was effective for all hair loss (makes one wonder about their ethics). A request that we made to the ASA for arbitration against the initial ruling, arguing that Vigro was completely ineffective, could therefore not proceed. However, it did allow a new complaint to be laid with the ASA arguing again that Vigro is ineffective for all forms of hair loss.

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Vigro – Dr Nye’s substantiation

Below is the substantiation of Dr David Nye in support of the claims for Vigro. As mentioned before, Dr Nye has “substantiated” a number of dubious products previously. Readers are welcome to read Dr Nye’s substantiation and compare with ours. Dr Nye’s substantiation, in our opinion, is typical of a number of “experts” who substantiate products – cherry pick evidence and hide that which does not fit.

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Vigro – balderdash!

Posted 05 July 2013

The ASA has previously ruled against the claims for Vigro. We had argued that preventing or curing hair loss would be a “holy grail” and on face value, the claims are impossible. Vigro’s expert, Mr John Knowlton, argued that the science in support of Vigro’s claims are valid for individuals who are affected by a specific form of hair loss and not all forms of hairloss. The product Vigro has subsequently been sold to Natura, a manufacturer of homeopathic products, and they are now aggressively marketing this product as being effective for hair loss.

Here we examine the ingredients and the “proof” supplied by Mr Knowles and the manufacturer, and show that the evidence in favour of this product working in ANY form of hairloss, is in fact balderdash.  A new complaint has been laid with the ASA.

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Vigro – ASA breach ruling

Posted 28 October 2012

In May 2012 the Directorate ruled that advertising that appeared on Vigro’s website, was unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code. The advertising promoted the respondent’s “Vigro 3-step programme” as “… and effective long lasting solution for thinning hair”. To some extent, the ruling took issue with the fact that the product’s efficacy claims only apply to non-hereditary hair loss, a fact which was not clearly stipulated or conveyed to consumers.  On 12 September 2012 the complainant lodged a breach complaint against the respondent’s television commercial flighted on MNET. The ASA evaluated the complaint and Vigro’s response.

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Vigro 3-step programme . . . for pouring your money down the drain

Posted 21 May 2012

I remember as a kid, my father’s obsession with his hair-loss. I remember him spending lots of money on lots and lots of products, none which prevented further hair loss. 

Hair loss is mainly genetic. Few products have any effect on preventing further hair loss, and these assist in few specific reversible conditions.

Vigro capitalises on individuals stressed and over-anxious by hair loss, selling impossible dreams of regrowth. The advertisements claimed “Vigro 3-step programme” as “… and effective long lasting solution for thinning hair”.

In my complaint I argued that this was rubbish and impossible: ” As thinning hair is an emotive issue, people are likely to try this product out of desperation. Simply supplementing with the respondent’s vitamins will not work”.

The ASA asked Vigro for evidence that their claims were possible. Of course, they could not.

[note]UPDATE 11 October 2013: See new ASA 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

Albe Geldenhuys of USN, a master scam artist?

Posted 9 March 2014

USN was founded in South Africa by Albe Geldenhuys. Meet a great salesman – and also one of South Africa’s biggest scam artists.

Why are we making such a bold claim?

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Slimbetti Active Xtreme – another scam

Posted 05 March 2013

A consumer laid a complaint with the ASA submitting that according to Slimbetti’s website, the two main ingredients are “Irvingia gabonensis” and green tea. There are limited studies for the ingredient Irvingia gabonensis on its own as quoted on the respondent’s website, but the complainant was unable to find a study where these two ingredients were combined, or combined in the same concentrations as is the case in this product.

Dr David Nye substantiated the product for SlimBetti. However the ASA Directorate was not satisfied that the weight loss claims made in the advertisement were appropriately and unequivocally verified as true and applicable to the product as a whole when consumed at the recommended dose and ruled against the claims for the product.

Readers will be aware that the same scam artists responsible for the other SlimBetti products, and previously SlenderMax, namely Jasmine and Chris GrindlayRead the rest