Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Ffynnonwen's Flipping Miracle Cure


The publicity materials for Ffynnonwen Remedies prominently feature an approving logo for the British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy.


If I hadn't picked up a flyer for the Institute at the same time, I might not have noticed that they are both appear to be operating out of the same address!


The product pictured above is a marvellous cure for hayfever. According to Ffynnonwen's flyers (available here, here, here and here):

"The specialist isopathic approach to desensitisation for allergies, developed over the last thirty years at the Institute and now used by all our members has proved to be one of the most effective treatments [for hayfever] available"

What sort of treatment has been "proved...to be one of the most effective", you ask? Why, a homeopathic one of course!

"With these simple homeopathic and herbal hayfever remedies you will change the way your body reacts to pollens. Without antihistamines. Without chemical drugs. In a completely natural way...By simply allowing the symptoms to disappear and then get on with your life"

Unfortunately for the advertisers, it's against the rules to claim that something works better because it is "natural".

It's also against a number of rules to advertise a homeopathic medicinal product that hasn't been registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) - and I haven't been able to find any indications that the advertisers have registered theirs.

ASA complaint follows!

"I write to complain about two flyers I picked up at the CamExpo exhibition in London on 24th October this year.

The flyers, for "Ffynnonwen Remedies" and the "British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy" - who operate out of the same address, and appear to be the same people - promote a homeopathic "Hayfever Treatment".

I suspect that the flyers may be in breach of four sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code (2010). I can provide the original flyers by post, if necessary.

1. (i) Flyer 1 is entitled "Allergy Testing and Treatment", and is marked as being produced by the "British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy."

(ii) The product which is the subject of this complaint is pictured prominently in Flyer 1.

2. Under Section 12.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether any of the following medical claims made in Flyer 1 can be substantiated:

(i) "The specialist isopathic approach to desensitisation for allergies, developed over the last thirty years at the Institute and now used by all our members has proved to be one of the most effective treatments [for hayfever] available"

(ii) The "specialist isopathic approach" is "effective" for "all common allergic symptoms including hayfever, asthma, eczema, and IBS"

(iii) "Our testing method (muscle testing, or kinesiology is...extremely accurate...When allergies are found they can be easily treated using our isopathic desensitizing drops"

3. Flyer 2 is entitled "Ffynnonwen Remedies - Hayfever Treatment".

4. Under Section 12.1, I challenge whether any of the following medical claims made in Flyer 2 can be substantiated:

(i) "With these simple homeopathic and herbal hayfever remedies you will change the way your body reacts to pollens. Without antihistamines. Without chemical drugs. In a completely natural way...By simply allowing the symptoms to disappear and then get on with your life"

(ii) "...the homeopathic hayfever remedies...are able to protect the individual from the effects of pollens that affect increasing numbers of the population of developing nations. Together with tinctures of herbs to help normalise the working of the immune system, almost complete protection from hayfever is assured in a completely natural way..."

(iii) "Patients usually experience a great deal of improvement the first season [i.e. year] and may expect to be symptom free [sic] the second"

(iv) The "desensitisation system used at the British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy" is "certainly one of the most effective alternative therapies for the treatment of allergic conditions"

5. Under Section 12.10, I challenge whether the claim that the "remedies [are] Without antihistamines. Without chemical drugs. Without side effects. In a completely natural way" suggests the advertised product is safe or effective merely because it is natural.

6. Under Section 12.13, I challenge whether the flyers fail to include information from the MHRA which is mandatory for homeopathic medicinal products.

7. I have not been able to find any indications that the advertised product is registered as a homeopathic medicine with the MHRA. Therefore, under Section 12.20 I challenge whether:

(i) The product is registered in the UK

(ii) Any product information given in the marketing communication has been confined to what appears on the label (which is visible in Flyer 1)

(iii) The flyers fail to contain a "warning to consult a doctor if symptoms persist"

(iv) The advertised product makes a medicinal or therapeutic claim without authorisation from the MHRA to do so

8. I confirm I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser."

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