Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Dormeasan - makes you want to sleep outdoors
This advert for Dormeasan which appeared in Healthy magazine closely resembled the ad for Prostasan that appeared twenty pages earlier.
No surprise there, since they are both promoted by A Vogel - who describe themselves as a "Pioneer in Natural Health - since 1923".
Jolly good of them to make all their adverts conform to a certain template - my ASA complaint is a cut-and-paste job, too.
"I write to complain about an advert in "Healthy" magazine (April 2010, Issue 82). I understand that the magazine is sold exclusively in Holland & Barrett stores.
The advert, for "A. Vogel", promotes "Dormeasan" which is a "traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances".
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.
1. The advert makes the following claims:
(i) "[Dormeasan] provides the active ingredients that encourage undisturbed sleep"
(ii) "Taken half an hour before bedtime [Dormeasan] can help encourage undisturbed sleep."
2. The two claims are qualified by the following statement:
"Dormeasan... is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances caused by the symptoms of mild anxiety, exclusively based upon longstanding use as a traditional remedy".
3. The first of the two claims is also qualified by a reference to a sixteen-year-old study, "M. Tobler et al: Characteristics of whole fresh plant extracts. Schweizerische Zeitschrift fuer GanzheitsMedizin, 1994"
4. Since the quoted 1994 study, more evidence has become available. For example, a 2006 meta-analysis states (in its Abstract):
"A systematic review of randomized, placebo-controlled trials of valerian [a primary ingredient in Dormeasan] for improving sleep quality is presented...
Most studies had significant methodologic problems, and the valerian doses, preparations, and length of treatment varied considerably. A dichotomous outcome of sleep quality (improved or not) was reported by 6 studies and showed a statistically significant benefit...but there was evidence of publication bias in this summary measure."
5. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."
6. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert will "mislead, or be likely to mislead" by quoting a single study from 1994, when a more recent meta-analysis reaches different conclusions.
7. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."
8. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."
9. I challenge whether Dormeasan's "longstanding use as a traditional remedy" and the 1994 study together satisfiy the advertiser's obligation, under Section 3.1, to "hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation".
10. I challenge whether Dormeasan's "long-standing use as a traditional remedy" and the 1994 study together satisfy the advertiser's obligation, under Section 50.1, to support "medical...claims made about...health-related products" with "evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people".
11. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, and taking into account recent advances in knowledge, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove either of the two claims (that I quote in paragraph 1), and I challenge whether the two claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people.
12. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.
13. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant.