|Date of Meeting:||19/06/14|
|Product:||Fusion Health Website|
|Respondent:||Global Therapeutics Pty Ltd|
|Sections Found Justified:||Act section 22(5), 42DL(1)(e)(ii); Code sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(c), 4(2)(d), 4(2)(f), 4(2)(i), 4(4), 4(6)(b), 5(2)|
|Sections Found Not Justified:||None|
|Action:||Withdrawal of representations, Withdrawal of advertisement|
20. Section 4(2)(a) of the Code prohibits representations that are “likely to arouse unwarranted and
unrealistic expectations of product effectiveness”. Section 4(2)(d) of the Code prohibits
advertisements which “abuse the trust or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers or contain
language which could bring about fear or distress.” Section 4(4) of the Code requires scientific
information to be “presented in a manner that is accurate, balanced and not misleading”, and requires
that publication of scientific research results should “identify the researcher and financial sponsor of
21. The complainant alleged breaches of sections 4(2)(a), 4(2)(d) and 4(4) of the Code in relation to the
paragraph beneath the heading “Standards” by saying that listing the test methods in a language that
the general public doesn’t understand exploits the lack of knowledge of consumers in order to make
the product appear to have exceptional quality and guaranteed potency. The Panel agreed with the
complainant and felt that that language used also was inappropriate and would not be readily Page 6 of 11
understood by consumers. The advertiser conceded the breaches by indicating that the material has
22. The Panel found, therefore, that these aspects of the complaint were justified.
28. The one document provided by the advertiser as substantiating material in support of the
representations made with respect to “Raw Materials” was an unpublished preliminary analysis and
no explanation was provided as to its relevance. The Panel was of the view that this was neither
sufficiently robust nor relevant material and, therefore, found the advertisement in breach of sections
4(1)(b), 4(2)(a) and 4(2)(c) of the Code.
29. Section 4(2)(i) of the Code prohibits claims, statements or implications that the goods advertised are
completely safe, harmless, or free of side-effects. The Panel was of the view that the context in which
the word ‘natural’ is used is important in determining whether or not there is an implication that the
product is safe. The complainant alleged a breach of this section of the Code because the emphasis
and use of the word ‘natural’ implies that it is safe. In this case, the Panel formed the view that the
way the word ‘natural’ had been used in the advertisement did imply that the product was safe.
30. The Panel also noted that the advertiser conceded that the use of the word ‘natural’ in the material
under the heading “Excipients” was misleading, in breach of section 4(2)(c) of the Code, by saying
that “this section of the page has been revised to ensure it’s accurate and not misleading”.
35. The Panel noted that the advertiser did not make it sufficiently clear in the advertisement that the
claims for this product were based on traditional use (per the ARTG entry) and, in fact, by including
the words “Research shows that this herb may promote normal regeneration of resting hair follicles,
which increases the number of hairs in the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle” implied that the
claims may have some scientific basis.
36. In the absence of any evidence or robust substantiating material, together with the response from the
advertiser that that they are undertaking “a comprehensive evidence review for all products and that
all of their marketing content (including website content) will be assessed in the light of this project
and revised as necessary”, Panel found the advertisement to breach these sections of the Code.
48. A strong claim such as “Scientific studies demonstrate moderation of appetite and inhibition of body
fat formation – to assist with healthy weight loss” must, in the Panel’s view, be supported by a robust
body of evidence. On the basis of lack of relevant supporting evidence, the Panel was of the view that
advertisement was in breach section 4(1)(b) of the Code, as well as sections 4(2)(a), 4(2)(c) of the
“Report a Rort” should over time become a comprehensive database with concise and easy to access information for the public on what is required when reporting a misleading claim, and who to direct that complaint towards.
It will be developed as I submit my own reports, along with consultation with others who are experienced in dealing with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). This should not be considered a completed reference, but one that is self-correcting should any new information be forthcoming.
You can find out more on this blog, and myself in the About section, or for a quick start, click “work-flow” in the Menu for an overview of whom to report to.