New advertising authority takes firm stand against quackery

Posted 14 December 2020


Board says it will rule even on advertising claims by companies that are not members

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has made it clear that it will rule against companies that make unproven medical claims, even if those companies are not members of the ARB.

ARB is a self-regulating authority, and its members join it voluntarily. There has been an ongoing debate dating back to the ARB’s predecessor, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), as to whether it can make rulings about the adverts of non-members.

The ARB replaced the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the latter went into liquidation in 2018.

The ARB has in recent months ruled that members should remove advertisements by three companies claiming the medical efficacy of their products. All three advertisements were broadcast on M-Net during the evening. M-Net is a member of the Read the rest

Landmark ruling for science journalists

Posted 31 March 2020

By GroundUp Editors

Appeal committee of press council frees media from having to create false balance

landmark ruling by the appeal committee of the Press Council has clarified the obligations of science journalists in South Africa, with immediate implications for coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ruling arose from an article GroundUp published in March 2019, Quack claims about oxygen treatment are dangerous. The article, clearly categorised at the top as science, described how some companies are making unsubstantiated medical claims about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This has legitimate purposes – like treating scuba divers who get the bends. But quack companies offer it as a treatment for cancer, autism and much else. Our report named a company making such spurious claims.

The company’s manager lodged a complaint with the press ombud. He argued his company should have been contacted for its Read the rest


Posted 14 April 2018

WAVEEX is a small plastic chip, which its manufacturers and peddlers claim can be attached to cell phones and other mobile devices to reduce harmful radiation.

We recently highlighted an article, published in GroundUp, titled How a journalist took an ethical stand and risked her job, about how the journalist Natasha Bolognesi refused to edit a bogus article for Natural Medicine Magazine, and the subsequent repercussions.  

The article by Professor George Claassen, a highly credible journalist, resulted in a posting of a comment to the article by Wolfgang Vogl, the CEO of WAVEEX, defending the claims of the product and “[I]n parallel our lawyers together with the Austrian Embassy in South Africa is preparing law suits against Classen [sic], Bolognesi and the GroundUp”.

We think that the science supporting these claims is useless, for many reasons. In addition, we agree with the USA Federal Read the rest

WAVEEX: How a journalist took an ethical stand and risked her job

Posted 11 April 2018

This article published on GroundUp, focusses on two strands:

  1. WAVEEX – a small plastic chip, which its manufacturers and peddlers claim can be attached to cell phones and other mobile devices to reduce harmful radiation. 
  2. How a journalist took an ethical stand and risked her job: Natasha Bolognesi refused to edit a bogus article

The manufacturers claim that WAVEEX, a small plastic chip attached to cell phones, “is ‘scientifically proven’, when in fact it is all fruitloopery – pseudoscience masquerading as science to confuse and convince consumers“. 

Read the rest

Court strikes blow against quackery

Posted 17 March 2017

USN, Albe Geldenhuys and Antagolin have instituted High Court action against Dr Steinman alleging defamation for Dr Steinman having pointed out factual deficiencies in their claims for their products.

This parallels Dr Brathwaite’s action against the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society.

This article published in GroundUp, reports on the court finding in favour of the latter, i.e., dismissing Dr Brathwaite’s action. “Defamatory statements are essentially statements that damage or harm the reputation of a person. However, even if the statements are defamatory, they can still be protected speech if they are true or fair comment and in the public benefit.”

Court strikes blow against quackery

Dr Hugh Brathwaite falsely claimed that his product could prevent HIV transmission

By Safura Abdool Karim

16 March 2017

On Wednesday, Judge M A Makume of the Johannesburg High Court dismissed an application by Dr Hugh Brathwaite, a medical … 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

Herbex “admits” to scam!

Posted 05 March 2014

This article, published in GroundUp, is on a presentation by the con artist, Eddie Bisset – CEO of Herbex, where he admits  “with a grin, ‘Customers are foolish enough to believe what you put on your label.‘ Bisset first claimed his products are CAMS (by labeling them such (“Schedule C0”)), but with the new CAM regulations that were published in November 2013 having dramatic consequences on Herbex, “Bisset wants to get around the regulations by claiming his products are food, not medicines“.

  • Fact – there is no proof that these products work – whether called a CAM or a foodstuff.
  • Fact – is it illegal to call them foodstuffs. In fact, Herbex Slimmers Cereal is an illegal foodstuff.
  • Fact – these are scams.
  • Fact – Eddie Bisset acts and speaks like a scam artist.
  • Fact – Bisset earns a fortune from
Read the rest