Simillimum, Health 2000, ear candles and fluoride
Another fortnight, another round of ASA complaints released.
Things of interest this time include 4 anti-fluoride that were not upheld, a complaint from @honestuniverse about Health 2000, an upheld Ear Candles complaint by @listay1 and a settled complaint against Simillimum Homeopathic Pharmacy by myself.
Fluoride Free NZ
Mark Atkin is listed on Fluoride Free NZ as their Science and Legal Advisor. In the latest round of ASA decisions released there were 4 complaints from him.
- 14/184 - Fluoridate Our Water Newspaper Advertisement
- 14/185 - Waikato District Health Board Direct Mail Advertisement
- 14/201 - Ministry of Health Fluoridation Website Advertisement
- 14/220 - Ministry of Health Flyer Advertisement
Looking at the complaints it's hardly surprising that they're not upheld. For someone claiming the title of "Science Advisor" he certainly demonstrates that he's unable to grasp the fundamentals of the Scientific Method. At this point, I think Fluoride Free NZ would be better served by firing him. If they were to replace him with an actual scientist that understood this, they would likely disband as a result. I don't see that happening though.
The upheld complaint against New Zealand's largest 'natural health' retailer returned a few entertaining quotes.
The initial complaint was against claims made by Health 2000 about GO Healthy GO Vir-Defence. One of the entertaining things about the advertisers response was how they effectively accused @honestuniverse of cherry picking statements from the conclusion. Their response to this was to quote the entire paragraph to give the statement in its complete context. The problem here is that the statement selected, while damning, was an accurate paraphrasing of the entire paragraph. The rest of it actually supported the statement and made it even clearer that, upon examination of the paragraph, in the context of the claims made by the product, that the claims are misleading to the point of pointlessness.
In brief; Many claims, one of which (zinc) has merit. Looking at the research supporting it a minimum of 13 extra capsules (in excess of the maximum recommended dose) would be needed each day. And that's just to reach the low end of a potential beneficial dose which applies in specific circumstances.
The other sweet quote from Health 2000 which is telling of the industry given their claim of New Zealand's largest 'natural health' retailer;
The complainant must surely be aware that the use of vague and ill-defined terms is not a choice in this industry.
You'd think that acknowledging that ought to ring some warning bells about their products. The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.
Ear Candles By Louise
The complaint by @listay1 that was upheld was interesting in that it appears the advertiser actually called in the lawyers for advice. The lawyer agreed with the claims and assisted with the rewrite of the site content. A quick review of the Ear Candles By Louise site now shows no therapeutic claims at all. In fact, reading over the site now I'm left wondering what the point of the product is at all. There's no reference to the made up origin or incorrect history, no health claims, no explanation as to why you'd want to do this activity at all.
The locations these can be purchased is reasonably long. I suspect there will be followups using this complaint as a precedent.
Simillimum Homeopathic "Pharmacy"
Another poke at these guys. In the past they have been pulled up for this exact same thing. In that response they complained and mentioned a few of the usual tropes. The "therapy" is controversial(it's not), the mechanism is unknown and that is the issue (it's not), there's many studies showing positive effect (many poorly executed trials)... The solution to this appeared to be to set up a new site and repeat the same claims. That's what this complaint was against.
The new decision pretty much repeats the same complaints (despite mentioning that these points are not the case within the wider scientific community). The reply from the quacks this time appeared to be a copy and paste of the last one with a few edits. It almost looks like they're refining the standard reply to these.
One keyword that caught my eye was the term "Ultramolecular". A quick search on that was entertaining. The very first hit: Ultramolecular homeopathy has no observable clinical effects.
The other edit that was made was the addition of a reasonable number of studies to back their position. Despite this, as with my previous complaint, they did not chose to challenge the complaint. They must have a lot of confidence in the research that backs their position.