UK ASA ruling: Herbal remedies, Uri Aid, etc.

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A direct mailing, for Living & Loving, included a leaflet which made a number of claims for the herbal remedies Uri Aid, ProstAid, ProstBoost and Up Mood.

The Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) challenged whether the  efficacy claims for the products were misleading and could be substantiated.

The ASA upheld all complaints.

ASA Adjudications

Lifes Health Inc t/a Living & Loving PO Box 634 Jersey JE4 8YP Ad

A direct mailing, for Living & Loving, included a leaflet which made a number of claims for the herbal remedies Uri Aid, ProstAid, ProstBoost and Up Mood.

Issue

The Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) challenged whether the following efficacy claims for the products were misleading and could be substantiated: 1. Uri Aid; "Overcome a Weak Bladder, UTI's & Cystitis

Most women will have suffered at least once from incontinence caused by a variety of reasons and most commonly because of a urinary tract infection (UTI) … there are a range of herbs specifically to prevent, negate or eliminate the various types of bladder problems mentioned above.

Uri Aid is a formulation of those proven most effective for women. The combination works to tone up the bladder sphincter and the bladder itself and quite quickly begins to reverse bladder leakage problems. Finally there are specialist herbs that overcome irritations and infections … A magic product …".

2. ProstAid; "… You really have three options 1 – Rely on prescription drugs (and associated side effects) 2 – Have Surgery at some stage (and probable impotence & incontinence) 3 – Try a natural remedy ProstAid is the natural formulation to regularize the size of your prostate gland and contains a combination of the most potent herbs known to feed the prostate gland the nutrients it needs to maintain its normal size and consistency. In all there are some 26 key active components that work in harmony to alleviate existing prostate problems fast and delay or stop future problems …".

3. ProstBoost; "ProstBoost contains a range of Phytosterols (in particular a Beta-sisterol complex) … As well as reducing prostate gland enlargement Beta-sisterol complexes have proven a very effective ally in the fight against prostate cancer, by inhibiting tumour formation and, where already present, slow spreading … Together with ProstAid, ProstBoost provides premium protection … to help maintain good urine flow-rates and minimise the chances of prostate cancer."

4. Up Mood; "Up Mood contains a blend of four key ingredients to keep your mood and mind positive at all times, and thus your ability not only to enjoy life to the full, but also to stop anxiety and depression. These include … Kava Kava … used to alleviate a range of health problems including anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain … it does not have the negative effects of tending to cloud thinking, reduce reaction times or cause sleepiness and is not addictive …".

They also challenged whether:

5. the claim "Warning: do not let your Doctor convince you to have surgery without trying other solutions first. Prostate surgery can cause impotence in as many as 70% of men. Be like the urologists who do not undergo surgery on themselves!" was irresponsible, because it encouraged recipients to disregard the advice of a medical professional;

6. advertising Up Mood at all was irresponsible, because it encouraged recipients to take a product that contained Kava Kava, a substance which was banned for sale in the UK;

7. the leaflet made medicinal claims for unlicensed products. 8. The ASA challenged whether the leaflet was irresponsible, because it could discourage recipients from seeking essential medical treatment for serious medical conditions.

The CAP Code: 2.2;3.1;7.1;50.1;50.3;50.11;50.20

Response

Living & Loving stated that the leaflet would not be used again.

Assessment

The ASA was pleased to note the mailing's leaflet would not be used again but was concerned that Living & Loving had not commented on the complaint or sent any evidence to support their claims. 1., 2., 3. & 4.

Upheld

In the absence of any evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims for the products, we concluded that they were unproven and misleading.

On points 1, 2, 3 & 4, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies – General) and 50.20 (Health and beauty products and therapies – Vitamins, minerals and other food supplements).

5. & 8. Upheld
We considered the claim "Warning: do not let your Doctor convince you to have surgery without trying other solutions first. Prostate surgery can cause impotence in as many as 70% of men. Be like the urologists who do not undergo surgery on themselves!" encouraged recipients to disregard the advice of a medical professional.

We were also concerned that, by referring to and offering treatment for serious medical conditions such as prostate problems and cancer, and by claiming "You really have three options 1 – Rely on prescription drugs (and associated side effects) 2 – Have Surgery at some stage (and probable impotence & incontinence) 3 – Try a natural remedy", the leaflet was likely to discourage readers from seeking essential medical treatment for serious medical conditions. We concluded that the leaflet was irresponsible.

On points 5 & 8, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 50.3 (Health and beauty products and therapies – General).

6. Upheld
We understood that it was illegal to sell Kava Kava in the UK and considered it was therefore irresponsible to advertise Up Mood, which contained Kava Kava. On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 2.2 (Responsible advertising). 

7. Upheld
We considered that claims such as "regularize the size of your prostate gland" and "fight against prostate cancer, by inhibiting tumour formulation" were medicinal. We noted the CAP Code stated that medicinal claims should not be made for unauthorised products, and we had not seen evidence to show that any of the products had a valid marketing authorisation.

We considered that the leaflet made medicinal claims to promote unlicensed products and therefore breached the Code. On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 50.11 (Health and beauty products and therapies – Medicines).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We urged Living & Loving to seek guidance from the CAP Copy Advice team when preparing future ads. Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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