The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint regarding advertising of the homeopathic product “No-Jet-Lag“” in an Auckland pharmacy. The complaint, which was lodged with the ASA by the Society for Science Based Healthcare in July, alleged that the advertisement’s claims about the product that “It Really Works” for “Homeopathic Jet Lag Prevention” were unsubstantiated and misleading.
In defense of their advertising the manufacturer of the product, Miers Laboratories submitted a study they had carried out regarding the product. However, the Advertising Standards Complaints Board said that:
the trial population in the pilot study was small, the methodology was not robust and the results had not been published or peer reviewed. The Complaints Board also noted the study was an in-house trial conducted by the Advertiser rather than independent research.
Given the weaknesses in the study, the majority of the Complaints Board said the Advertiser had not satisfactorily substantiated the claim the product “really works” and, as such, the Complaints Board said the advertisement had the potential to mislead consumers. Consequently, the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not observe a high standard of social responsibility required of advertisements of this type.
As a result, the Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.
The Society for Science Based Healthcare welcomes this decision from the Advertising Standards Authority, and considers it a win for consumers who wish to make informed decisions about their healthcare.
The pharmacy in which the advertisement was found said that:
We believe that the product is sold in many pharmacies in New Zealand and it is somewhat arbitrary that our pharmacy is the subject of the complaint.
We are interested in the outcome of the complaint and can indicate that if the Authority upholds the complaint we will remove the product from sale. In the meantime, the product has been removed from the counter and placed in a less prominent position.
The Society also agrees with the pharmacy that the complaint should not be considered specific to the pharmacy, but relevant to the many New Zealand pharmacies that sell this product. The Society considers their promise to remove the product from sale in response to this complaint being upheld to be appropriate and responsible, and hopes that all other New Zealand pharmacies which sell this product will follow suit.
The Pharmacy Council’s Safe Effective Pharmacy Practice Code of Ethics 2011 section 6.9 requires of pharmacists that:
YOU MUST… Only purchase, supply or promote any medicine, complementary therapy, herbal remedy or other healthcare product where there is no reason to doubt its quality or safety and when there is credible evidence of efficacy.
There is no credible evidence of efficacy for this product. As such, the Society for Science Based Healthcare believes it is unethical for pharmacies to promote and supply it, especially when misleading advertisements are also involved. The Society believes this is a great opportunity for responsible pharmacists to review their stock, particularly if they stock homeopathic products, and ensure that they have credible evidence of efficacy for all healthcare products that they sell.
According to the No-Jet-Lag website, “Most chemists nationwide” stock this product.
The Advertising Standards Authority also settled 2 other complaints from the Society for Science Based Healthcare, whereby the advertisers GrabOne and Healthy Online withdrew misleading claims about ear candles. Ear candles are commonly claimed to be able to assist with the removal of ear wax, although there is no evidence that they are able to do so and there are also risks involved with their use.