Is Arthroplex one of the worst herbal scams ever?

UPDATE 20/06/12 Forty-nine people reported this ad to the ASA, who upheld our complaints today. It seems some of the complaints concerned an earlier edition of the leaflet – some of the quotes on the adjudication differ from my leaflet (for example, the misspelling of ‘arthritis’ as ‘arthritus’).

UPDATE 12/07/12 Press release: MHRA warns arthritis sufferers about buying unlicensed arthritis treatment
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Arthroplex leaflets, featuring a veritable smörgåsbord of misleading and unsubstantiated miracle health claims are still being slotted into various publications.

The product is unlicensed, unauthorised and often fails to arrive. It also appears to be specifically aimed at elderly and retired people suffering from chronic, painful health conditions.

As an an addendum to a recent post on herbalists, Professor David Colquhoun remarked that this could be one of the worst herbal scams ever. His post, which drew attention to herbalists’ outdated and silly beliefs about health concluded

Don’t let them get a foot in your door.

I may not have had a herbalist’s foot in my door but I have certainly had a leaflet through my letterbox – scans of the whole thing are linked on my initial post.

This now also includes plenty of comments by customers who handed over money for Arthroplex but have yet to receive their goods. I have a growing number of private emails of a similar nature and have advised these people to contact their local Trading Standards Office or Citizens Advice Bureau. Unfortunately however, I have little hope that Trading Standards will be able to do much, given that the shadowy organisation behind all this appears to be operating from abroad.

I would warn customers who have actually received the products to be very wary of using them and to instead consult a doctor to discuss more suitable treatments. Since the advertising claims are outlandish, unsubstantiated nonsense, we have no idea if the products are effective. Even more worryingly, we have no idea if the products are safe.

I have been in touch with the Advertising Standards Authority and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, who told me they have collectively received over forty complaints about Arthroplex leaflets. The marketing of this product not only breaches the CAP advertising code but is also against the law. As the leaflet makes medicinal claims, it is a legal requirement for the company to hold a marketing authorisation from the MHRA before marketing it to UK consumers. The company do not hold such an authorisation.

I have heard that Arthroplex leaflets have appeared in the following publications and have emailed them all, sharing my concerns. I will add their responses below as I receive them.

Caravan Club Magazine
My email has been forwarded to their advertising agency, Ten Alps, for their records. They also told me I was not the only person to complain and that they will not accept advertising for this product in future.

Radio Times
I was informed that the Radio Times have not carried any form of advertising for this company. It seems that there was some sort of mistake so I have edited my original post accordingly.

McCarthy & Stone magazine
I have been assured that McCarthy & Stone will not be including this in future issues. They thanked me for raising their awareness of this product.

My Weekly
UPDATE 18/06/12
I have been assured that My Weekly will not be carrying Arthroplex advertisements again. According to an email from the editor, Sally Hampton, they are doing everything they can to assist the ASA in their enquiries and ensure that “readers receive suitable recompense as quickly as possible. She also mentioned that they had received a number of similar complaints, as had several competitors. She thanked me for the background information and added that they will be monitoring the situation closely.

Saga magazine
UPDATE 19/06/12
I was most impressed with the response I had from Saga. They said it had caused them much embarrassment that the ad had got through their normally very stringent policing standards. The copy supplied for acceptance was different to the one submitted for printing and Saga actually reported the ad to the ASA themselves. I was assured that it will certainly never appear in Saga again and that an adjudication by the ASA will hopefully deter other media from carrying the ads.

Archant
UPDATE 19/06/12
Archant titles that have carried the ads include Sporting Shooter, Canal Boat magazine, the English Home magazine, Professional Photographer, Airgun, Yorkshire Life, Devon Life, Sussex Life, Dorset magazine and the East Anglian Daily Times. I have been assured that Archant will not be carrying these advertisements again.

Chums catalogue
Yours magazine

If you spot any more advertising for Arthroplex or any other products marketed by this organisation (known as “Doctor’s”, “Life Healthcare” or “Life Natural Cures”), I would love to hear about it. Please add comments below or contact me here.

46 responses to “Is Arthroplex one of the worst herbal scams ever?

  1. Carlos & Christine Stebbing

    My husband purchased Arthroplex May 18th and has not recieved any and from your comments isn’t likely to either. The leaflet was from the Yours magazine which I purchase regularly and thought was a trustworthy magazine in connection with it’s advertising. The worrying thing is not just that as a scam he has lost his money but also they have all his card details.

  2. Pingback: Arthroplex: instant relief for the wallet | Josephine Jones

  3. Pauline Chalk

    Have found advertisement for Arthroplex in the Dorset Magazine. Was very tempted to purchase as I have painful arthritis in knee and hip. Thank goodness I read the comments on this website and avoided the pitfalls. Pauline (Dorset)

  4. I’ve (very surprisingly) also found the advertisement in the Open University’s Open Minds journal. I called the ad sales people and warned them about this terrible scam. Thank you so much for all your comments.

    • Thanks for letting me know. As I said last week, I was surprised to hear that this had been in Open Minds. I haven’t got round to contacting them myself yet but will do so.

  5. Just seen arthroplex 8 page pull-out ad in “the english garden ” magazine July issue

  6. MARGARET SLATER

    HAVE ORDERED ARTHROPLEX FROM AD. IN EAST ANGLIAN SUFFOLK MAG.HAVE NOT RECEIVED AFTER 3 WEEKS

  7. Ms Musu Kabia

    I ordered arthroplex capsules and gel on 05/06/12, to the total of £175, including postage for my mother in law, who has painful arthiritis. The gels have arrives, but no capsules. I have send repeated emails requesting refunds, to no avail. I contacted the telephone number listed on the website, its an answer phone to leave messages for order, no possibility of speaking to human being. I definitely feel i’ve been conned. Wish i’d done my reserach prior to odering from this company. Not sure what to do now.

  8. I’m sorry to hear of your problems with this company.

    If you paid by credit card, you may be able to get your money back. I would contact Citizens Advice: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm

    I would be wary of taking the capsules if they do arrive – we don’t know what’s in them, if they work or if they are safe. I would advise that your mother in law speaks to her doctor.

  9. Pingback: Thyrosine Support Formula: more nonsense from Life Natural Cures | Josephine Jones

  10. I am astonished by the fact that none of the people complaining about this product seem to have tried taking it. More fool them! I have started a one month’s trial and after five days it seems to be doing everything that is claimed for it. If, after a month’s trial it does not work I can get my money back under the guarantee. Let the critics continue to suffer from arthritis pain. I am delighted to be pain free. I understand that the delay in delivery has been caused by thousands of users placing substantial orders afterf they have tried it for a month.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      The marketing of this product is illegal and the product itself is potentially dangerous. The MHRA issued a warning and press release last week. Anyone who has bought this product or has concerns is advised to speak to their GP or healthcare professional. This has now been reported quite widely.

      There are further details here: http://www.mhra.gov.uk/NewsCentre/Pressreleases/CON172311

    • I too received the Arthroplex leaflet and was very interested in its claims. I suffer very painful arthritis in all joints and the thought of being pain free is extremely appealing. As I take warfarin I took the leaflet to my consultant on the 18th July and she looked at the ingredients which make up the Arthroplex tablets. She felt that none of the ingredients could affect the warfarin. I was intending to buy a month’s supply, as Mr.Blackburn states – what have you got to lose if you get your money back if not satisfied. Looking at this website I began to have doubts but then I read Mr.Blackburn’s comments. It would be interesting to know of those persons criticising the product how many have actually tried it and how many have or have not been relieved of pain from it. Like Mr.Blackburn I would try anything to be free of pain and I therefore intend to purchase a month’s supply. Hopefully I will be able to return to this site and confirm that it works.

      • I’m quite astounded by this comment and wondering what kind of consultant would see the Arthroplex leaflet and not smell a rat.

        Your consultant felt that none of the ingredients could affect the warfarin..? May I ask what the ingredients actually are and in what quantity? Was there a patient information leaflet like you get with licensed medicines? Or was it just the list of ‘plant extracts’ shown on the leaflet and on the Life Natural Cures website? As I’ve already said, a good number of these plants may be used to make medicines. For example, Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid, which is closely related to aspirin. You may be aware that aspirin and warfarin may both be used to reduce the risk of blood clots and it is indeed possible to take them together – but this is something that your doctors should advise on and which they should certainly be aware of.

        Let’s take another example from the ingredients list. Harpagophytum, also known as Devil’s Claw, contains an anti-inflammatory drug called harpagoside. This promotes the secretion of stomach acid, leading to difficulties in those with peptic ulcers, gastritis or excess stomach acid. Care should also be taken for individuals with gallstones. Crucially in your case – it can interfere with the action of warfarin.

        I would steer well clear if I were you. I would also ask to be referred to a different consultant.

  11. Pingback: MHRA warns arthritis sufferers about buying unlicensed arthritis treatment | Josephine Jones

  12. I am 82 years of age and for many years I have suffered from severe arthritis pain. An NHS specialist who I consulted could offer no advice apart from telling me that the condition would get worse and that I should take pain killers which I understand can have serious side effects..

    After taking Arthroplex capsules for six days I am free from pain. It has transformed my life! I don,t care if the product (said to be potentially dangerous) kills me if I can live the rest of my life pain free,

    In what way are the ingredients potentially dangerous? The citics seem to have no explanation nor do any of them seem to have tried taking the product. There does not appear to me a shred of evidence to support the hysterical complaints on this discussion board.

    My supplier tells me that the reason the product has been in short supply is that 17,000 reapeat orders were placed in two months by people who had taken the one-month trial and found that the product worked.

    .

  13. Peter –

    You have my full sympathy. I am sorry to hear that the NHS specialist was not able to offer constructive advice or treatment. It’s hard for me to comment much since I don’t know your medical history and in any case, I’m not a doctor. However, I understand that there should be treatment and support available to you, not just medication, but also perhaps physiotherapy, advice on exercises, or surgery.

    You may find some useful information on the Arthritis Care site (here http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/PublicationsandResources/Arthritisbasics) or on the NHS site. If you are unhappy with the service you have had from your NHS specialist, perhaps you could talk this through with your GP, or perhaps you could ring the Arthritis Care helpline on 0808 800 4050.

    You are asking why I and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are saying the products are potentially dangerous. The short answer to this is that we don’t know what’s in them. The MHRA regulate medicines in the UK. The criteria they look at are safety, quality and efficacy. Arthroplex is not regulated. We don’t know if it is safe or if it is effective.

    You feel you have had reduced pain since using Arthroplex. There are a number of explanations for this:

    – Perhaps Arthroplex contains pain killing drugs
    – The placebo effect
    – Regression to the mean (ups and downs in the condition – you take the product when you’re feeling bad then when you’re feeling better you assume the product was responsible)

    If Arthroplex has an effect on the body beyond placebo (ie if it works) then it is because it contains drugs. This is quite possible considering that several of the listed plant extracts can have medicinal uses. As you quite rightly pointed out, drugs have side effects. Without knowing exactly what is in the product, we don’t know what those side effects may be. You may have medical conditions other than arthritis. You may already be on prescribed medication. There may be contraindications with Arthroplex that we should know about.

    I wish you well and advise you to seek proper qualified medical advice.

  14. The ingredients in Arthrolex are llsted in the advertising leaflet. They are soothing herbal extracts of Arnica, Horse Chestnut, Meadownsweet, Mint and Juniper, Liquorice, Harpagophytum, Papaya and Pineapple, and Solomon’s Seal plus 500 mg of methylsulphonylmethane (MSM). The quantities are listed on the product pack. The dosage is only two capsules a day.

    My wife (retired) who has a doctorate in biochemistry and was the consultant biochemist at a leading London Teaching Hospital for many years sees nothing alarming in this ingredients list apart from scepticisim that these components work at all, particularly MSM. She is also sceptical about the Taurine in Red Bull.

    There is a message on the product Arhtroplex product pack which warns users who are on prescribed medication or who suffer from food allergies to consult their doctors before taking the product and to cease taking it immediately if unusual reactions are experienced.

    All of this seems to me to be a very responsible approach by the manufacturer. If, after a month’s trial the product does not work you can get your money back under the guarantee

    My experience has been that conventional medical specialists and GPs know nothing about herbal medicine or nutritional supplements. I take a prostate heath product which has reduced my annual PSA reading to 0.4, 0.5 and 0.5 (abnormal reading 5 and above) in the last hree years and the pharmacist at Kings College Hospital in London has seen nothing wrong in my taking it. Had I known about this product earlier it could have saved me from prostate surgery.

    Returning to Arthroplex, after taking the product for seven days my arhtritic pain has disappeared so much that I now feel completely confident about booking a holiday overseas.

    Forty complainants, who admit that they have not tried taking the product and consequently have no experiece of its benefits, seems to me to be a very small sample of opinion through which to condemn a new food supplement out of hand when tens of thousands of people are buying and reordering the prduct according to my supplier.

    Arthroplex has certainly transformed my life.

    • I must say, you have a remarkable loyalty to this company. You have managed to post three lengthy comments on my blog without properly reading my replies or considering my arguments.

      As I’ve said already, if the product has any effect beyond placebo, then that is because it contains drugs. Simply listing the names of the plants from which these drugs were obtained is not a good enough way of knowing whether the product works or whether it is safe. And you certainly don’t ascertain whether a medicine is safe or effective by simply trying it for yourself. That would be reckless and highly inadvisable.

      In the UK, medicines are regulated by the MHRA. As I’ve also already said, they recently issued a statement warning people against buying these products. They described Arthroplex as a ‘potentially-dangerous unlicensed and unproven medicine’. The reason they described it in this way is because that is exactly what it is. If you wish to continue to argue this point, I suggest you take it up with them.

      Incidentally, according to that press release, there were over 70 complaints.

      I find it difficult to believe that your wife was a consultant biochemist and has no problem with this product. She wasn’t Mrs “Crawley”‘s’ consultant by any chance? Or perhaps you, your wife and Mrs Crawley are somehow getting confused.

      This company is disreputable. There is no doubt about it. I have lost count of how many disgruntled customers have been in touch with me. Just five minutes ago, I had an email from an 81-year old lady who was persuaded by a sales person to buy a 12 month supply after ringing them initially to cancel her order. She says she suffered bad side effects, is now unable to get through on the phone (the numbers she has both go to recorded sales messages) and is finding the whole situation very stressful.

      Perhaps your Arthroplex contacts could advise?

      And as for conventional medics knowing nothing about herbal medicine or supplements – that is a myth spread by supplement salespeople. If there is a good medical reason to take supplements then they are recommended by health professionals. For example, in the past I have been prescribed both folic acid and iron supplements by NHS doctors.

      As far as herbal medicine is concerned, lots of medicines are derived from plants. For example, as I’ve said already, it is possible to manufacture aspirin from Meadowsweet – one of the components of Arthroplex.

  15. Thanks for your reply to my last post.

    I still maintain that conventional medics know little about supplements. After having surgery three times for benign prostate enlargement I have been taking a supplement called Prost-8 for prostate health. As a result my PSA reading has been 0.4, 0.5, and 0.5 in the past three years (readings above 4 are regarded as abnormal). A leading specialist at Kings College Hospital – a world class teaching hospital – told me that he knew nothing about this product but has said that my last examination my prostate cavity was ‘beautiful’. A pharmacist at the same hospital advised me to notionally double my PSA reading when taking this product as they acknowledged that products containing Saw Palmetto do lower PSA.

    You say that you have been prescribed Folic Acid by NHS doctors. Does this mean that advertising of Marmite – a product rich in Folic Acid – will now be subject to restriction? Is the sale of Sanatogen Tonic Wine which contains iron going to be banned?

    Imagine ths strain on the NHS is everyone taking supplements is forced to resort to prescription drugs instead.

    One of your correspondents has asked is this one of the worst herbal scams ever. No – from my personal experience it is one of the most effective arthritis treatments ever and the inventor should be awarded a Nobel Prize.

    Let us hear no more from these scaremongers who have not tried taking the product and who do not even know what it contains. Lets have some testimonials from people who are actually using it and know what they are talking about.

  16. If anyone has a problem getting in touch with the suppliers of Arthroplex they should telephone my contact Andrew Brunton on [redacted] and ask for him to call back. The phone will be answered and I am sure you will get a helpful response. He acknowledges that there has been a backl0g of orders due to the tremendous demand for the product after people have tried it for one month and have found that it really works.

  17. My elderly neighbor purchased Arthroplex capsules and gel tabs, they arrived Monday this week (6 weeks delivery time). She took one capsule at bedtime and spent the night with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea the following day Tuesday she was still suffering and was to weak to get out of bed. So far she has not felt up to using the gel. 78 years old and living alone she was in a real predicament, would be interested to hear from anyone else with similar symptons.

  18. Have been on Google, Arthroplex is advertising itself, beware
    I recieved a leaflet through the post today, Doctor’s

  19. i tried the gel and found it worked but am now a bit worried about trying the capsules after reading about them. i sent an order to netherlands but never received them so cancelled the cheque. wouldn’t pay by credit card over the phone and didn’t like the fact that you did not speak to anybody maureen oliver

  20. I was very pleased to read your blog. My father who doesn’t use tablets etc. purchased Arthroplex due to the adverts which I now know to be illegal & misleading. I immediately informed him so he can make an informed choice rather than the one-sided misleading advertising. If it works, ok, but I would err on the side of caution & I never trust anyone who starts out with a lie, like the companies marketing Arthroplex. So, many thanks for your blog, and people like you who use common sense in these matters.

  21. after cancelling my cheque for the tablets i received a letter saying i owed them £47,as i had not received the tablets i wrote and told them that i owesd them nothing. would you believe they have arrived in the post today so i have to sort out returning them. first adsdress i wrote to was the netherlands, second letter was from switzerland. this post mark is hungary maureen oliver

  22. i purchased arthroplex gel and tablets because the leaflet was in the saga mag i took the tablets but i got heartburn so i stoped taking them but i use the gel it dousnt stop the pain but it helps with the stiffnes i havent had any side efects and i am elerjick to asperin

  23. I saw their advert in a publication called Jump Start and ordered the trial pack. The gel arived but not the tablets. I complained on the phone and some one did answer. They sent me a claims form that a completed and returned. The 2nd supply arived today so I shall try them. I will let you know how I get on.

  24. My mum has used a months supply for the gel and tablets and she feels that the pain in her knees has reduced. She is wanting to order further supplies but I am reluctant to do so but then also thinking if it helps her pain then I should go ahead and place a order for her. As far as I know they are all natural ingredients which we have heard act as anti-inflammatories what can be the harm in taking them? I don’t understand why they don;t have them tested etc and make them legal as some consumers are actually feeling the benefits. However when we received the gel it was not a full tube which was annoying. Anyway may order a second batch and see what happens.

    .

  25. I have just received the exact same leaflet with order form to send in – I’d like to instead send them my piece of mind.
    It disgusts me to think these people are still trying to take advantage of those In chronic pain and on low income because of their disability, its made me angry to even receive it and hope no one else hands over cash to these horrible people!

  26. I have just had a leaflet through my door for ARTHROSOLVE (formerly Arthroplex) it came with other leaflets inside a ‘WOODS’ catalogue and the address for these leaflets is in Breda,Netherlands

  27. Peter Appleyard

    Peter
    My wife has just received an Arthrosolve leaflet in a Woods supplement brochure.

  28. The owner and person behind all these companies is called Mr James Barker and he lives in UK up north- Life, Life Healthcare, Woods supplements, Easyvit, Elixir, and many others. He is a very rich man.

  29. If this is illegal and a scam, does it not deserve wider publicity than so far given to the complaint? This valuable list of comments sponsored by Josephine Jones only reached me because I too got the leaflet through SAGA and being computer literate I decided to look up the Arthrosolve website, and found this site as a consequence. What about BBC Watchdog, for instance, for wider publicity, or some sort of campaign by an investigative journalist?. There are many vulnerable people suffering from the complaints listed who are not necessarily going to be able to consult the internet.

    Brenda Hall, Elie, Fife

    • Hi Brenda,

      I agree that this deserves wider publicity. The company keep reappearing with similar products under different names and I still keep hearing from people who have come across their advertising. Just today, there was another ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority against Life Healthcare, this time for “Joint Restorer”: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2014/11/Life-Healthcare-LLC/SHP_ADJ_275219.aspx#.VGNyGclFtfw

      Did you find the leaflet through SAGA recently? If so, I would write to them. As I mentioned in the post above, in 2012, they said it had caused them much embarrassment that the ad had got through their normally very stringent policing standards. The copy supplied for acceptance was different to the one submitted for printing and they actually reported the ad to the ASA themselves. I was assured that it will never appear in Saga again.

  30. Horrified after reading all the comments! Thought it was to good to be true. Why do companies offer these false claims to people like me who do almost anything to be pain free. I think they are so wicked to raise peoples hopes up. I just hope they get there reward, in hell!!!

    • Why do these companies make “science-y” sounding false claims to people desperate not to be in agony? Unfortunately, simply because they want to make a fast buck (or £) and they don’t care about the predictable consequences. [Many of them probably haven’t ever felt real, prolonged pain in their lives – &/or believe in some BS “Secret” kind of “anyone suffering must’ve somehow done or thought something to ‘deserve’ their pain or illness ‘spirituality’.”] Hence the projection about “Evil Big Pharma” being out to “keep/make people sick” in order to increase their profit margins and related conspiracy theories (BTW, I’m well aware that there are crooks in some Pharma companies).
      Personally I wish those who prey upon the desperate like the purveyors of quackery would receive their “just rewards” in a more terrestrial, timely and preferably Legal manner.

  31. M.Raja I have used both gel and capsules in 2012 regularly and my pain in the leg gone. I still use capsules from time to time. I have recommended capsules to so many people. I m completely satisfied . I am a 70 year old man and the Arthrosolve was a great blessing for me. Thanks to Arthrosolve.

  32. I have found Arthrosolve to be everything it says. It has taken the pain from my knees and shoulders. I have tested it by not taking the capsules for a few weeks and the pain returns but soon goes after resuming. I sometimes have to wait a couple of weeks after ordering before delivery but they always tell me if there will be a delay.

  33. I have found Arthrosolve does everything it says. I have taken it for years and it has removed the pain (and noises!) from my knees. I occasionally test it by stopping and find the pain returns after a while but quickly disappears after resuming taking the capsules. It is far better than taking anti-inflammatories and pain killers.

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