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ASA not mandated to comment on ‘complementary medicine’: Herbex

06 April 2018 - 17:53 By Nico Gous
Herbex advertisement.
Herbex advertisement.
Image: Supplied

Herbex has slammed the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)‚ charging that it is not mandated to comment on “complementary medicine”.

Herbex made the statement on Friday after the ASA found its weight loss claims in a television commercial were unsubstantiated.

Consumer activist Dr Harris Steinman complained about the commercial for its product Fat Attack. It features the testimonial of one Lindsay who claimed she lost 43kg since 2006 using Herbex slimmers.

“I have kept the weight off for 10 years. Herbex has completely changed my life. I am more confident and feel like I can do anything.”

The commercial then shows before and after photos of Lindsay.

“I am finally living the life I have always wanted to. Do you know what that does to your confidence‚ your health and your energy levels? My health dramatically improved in the last 10 years. So‚ if you want to lose weight and keep it off‚ get Herbex. Start today.”

WATCH |  Herbex Advertisement 

Dischem‚ Clicks and Spar are some of the stores that sell Herbex products.

The managing director of Herbex holding company Newgroup Holdings‚ Eddie Bisset‚ said the ASA was not mandated by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) (formerly Medicines Control Council) to examine “complementary medicines”.

He added that the company’s testimonials were “real and factual and supported by an affidavit signed by the featured customers”. “Our products are carefully researched and formulated by industry professionals before going to market.”

Steinman said there was no evidence that Fat Attack led to weight loss and that‚ if it existed‚ a testimonial did not represent the majority of Fat Attack consumers.

He referred to foreign legislation about the standards of testimonials in advertising. He said truthful testimonials must point out the product only worked for some consumers‚ that weight loss was unlikely‚ must be used with a calorie-restricted diet and exercise or it would likely have no effect.

Herbex is not a member of the ASA and said it would not submit to its jurisdiction.

The ASA code says testimonials should not claim efficacy which cannot “justifiably” be attributed to the use of the product and that results should be “fairly” presented. “Before” and “after” claims should be substantiated and illustrated in such a way that a “fair” comparison can be made.