New study finds trading standards close to breaking point trying to regulate misleading marketing claims on healthcare products
Ineffective and dangerous health products are being advertised to the public for serious medical conditions in breach of consumer protection regulations, while cash-strapped trading standards departments struggle to keep traders in line. A new study has confirmed that laws intended to protect vulnerable consumers against misleading health-related marketing claims are simply not being enforced.
Download the report: Testing the Effectiveness of Consumer Legislation for Health-Related Claims
The results of a HealthWatch survey of medical students about their experience of CAM in the curriculum have now been published in Focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, December 2013:
Ho, D., Chan, K., Bewley, S. and Bender, D. A. (2013), Evidence-based medicine and complementary and alternative medicine teaching in UK medical courses: a national survey of the student experience. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 18: 176–181. doi: 10.1111/fct.12059, available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fct.12059/abstract.
The pre-peer-reviewed version of this paper is available by clicking here.
There is an accompanying editorial:
Bender, D. A. (2013), What should medical students learn about complementary and alternative medicine?. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 18: 169–170. doi: 10.1111/fct.12056, available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fct.12056/abstract
The pre-peer-reviewed version of this editorial is available by clicking here.
Leslie B Rose (1), Paul Posadzki (2) and Edzard Ernst (2).
1. Pharmavision Consulting Ltd, 11 Montague Road, West Harnham, Salisbury SP2 8NJ
2. Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Veysey Building, Salmon Pool Lane, Exeter, EX2 4SG, UK Medico-Legal Journal 80:1 13-18 2012
The lay media, and especially the Internet, contain many misleading claims for health products which have previously been inadequately regulated by consumer law. This was an experimental interventional survey within a consumer health-care setting. Three health products were chosen on the basis of being widely available on the UK market and having no available evidence of effectiveness. Twelve volunteers submitted 39 complaints to Consumer Direct (UK portal for the regulator Trading Standards) regarding false health claims, and 36 complaints were followed up for a maximum of 4.8 months. The mean time from submission of complaints to Consumer Direct to acknowledgement by the relevant Trading Standards office was 13 days. There were no responses from Trading Standards for 22% of complaints. At the end of the study one supplier had amended their website following Trading Standards advice, but did not stop all health claims. Another stopped advertising their product on the Internet and the third continued the health claims unchanged. EU directive 2005/29/EC is largely ineffective in preventing misleading health claims for consumer products in the UK.
© Medico-Legal Society
The full text of this paper is available at http://mlj.rsmjournals.com/content/80/1/13.abstract