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
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 His post, which drew attention to herbalists’ outdated and silly beliefs about health concluded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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.