Sunday, 23 May 2010

Intramed Ltd and their "Arthritis Relief Bracelet"

Following a brief period of inactivity, I've had a letter from a Mrs Trellis of North Wales, enquiring whether I have been abducted by a vengeful complainee.

The answer is no, and thank you for your concern. On with the complaints!

The ASA Council have upheld an astonishing ten complaints against Intramed Ltd, so I'm delighted the company has come to my attention with their advert for an Arthritis Relief Bracelet.

The scientific evidence shows that magnetic products like these just don't work, so here is my latest ASA complaint.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Choice" magazine (May 2010, p99). The advert, for Intramed Ltd, promotes an "Arthritis Relief Bracelet".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of four 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 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."

2. 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..."

3. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) The claim that the advertisers have well over 100,000 Arthritis Relief Bracelets to customers who were satisfied with their purchase

(ii) The claim that the Bracelets make [arthritis] pain "disappear and in most cases you will be completely pain free [sic] in just a few hours"

(iii) The claim that "Magnetic Therapy is now recognised by the NHS"

4. The CAP Code, Section 14.1, states "Marketers should hold signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for any testimonial they use. Unless they are genuine opinions taken from a published source, testimonials should be used only with the written permission of those giving them."

(i) Under Section 14.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for the thirteen testimonials used in the advert.

5. The CAP Code, Section 14.3, states "Testimonials alone do not constitute substantiation and the opinions expressed in them must be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy. Any claims based on a testimonial must conform with the Code."

6. Under Section 14.3, I challenge whether the advertiser can support the opinions in the thirteen testimonials which attest to the bracelet's efficacy, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy.

7. In preparing this complaint, I made various efforts to research the advertised product.

(i) I could find no evidence that "Magnetic therapy is now recognised by the NHS".

(ii) In 2006, the now-defunct NHS Prescription Pricing Authority ruled that "4UlcerCare", a "magnetic leg wrap", could be prescribed to patients[1]. I can find no evidence that this is still the case.

(iii) Indeed, the NHS Choices website advises that "magnetic wrist straps and copper bracelets have little or no effect on pain, physical function or stiffness in osteoarthritis". [2]

(iv) A 2008 systematic review of magnetic therapy[3] found no evidence of an effect on pain relief, with the possible exception of
sufferers of osteoarthritis:

"Overall, the data suggested no significant effects of static magnets for pain relief relative to non-magnetic placebo. Peripheral joint osteoarthritis was the one condition for which the evidence appeared encouraging. For all other conditions, there was no convincing evidence to suggest that static magnets might be effective for pain relief."

(v) A 2009 study[4], focusing on magnetic therapy and osteoarthritis, found no evidence for its efficacy:

"Our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects. However such devices have no major adverse effects and may provide hope."

(vi) The ASA council has in the past upheld complaints about magnetic therapy products [5][6][7].

(vii) The ASA council has upheld numerous complaints about the advertisers [8].

8. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.



  1. Good stuff.

    I've being trying to get the MHRA and Trading standrds and OFT to look into Intramed disappointing results:

    Seems UK law is not as tight in some areas s it needs to be.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Dr*T,

    Thanks for your comments! It was actually your blog which alerted me to the company's past dealings with the ASA.


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