Challenging misleading healthcare claims.

WDDTY #5 - A Poisonous Problem?

Another episode in the continuing series of complaints about adverts in What Doctors Don't Tell You


Our electricity is dirty. It poisons us and our environment. But don't worry, there is a solution that can clean it up, improve your health and reduce your energy bills. What's not to like? Yours for £55.

Yet another advert in What Doctors Don't Tell You has fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

This ad by Stetzer UK for a Stetzer plug-in mains filter device in the September issue stated:

Electric Pollution?

Try the Stetzer solution

The powerful answer to a poisonous problem

Stetzers absorb dangerous dirty electricity from the wiring in buildings experts [sic] have seen significant improvements in ADHD, allergies, diabetes, fibromyalgia, headaches, ME, MS, rashes, tinnitus.

Independent EC mark [sic] certified

Now 50% more powerful

Using patented technology

Electricity bills may be reduced by 30%

So as well as claims about medical conditions, it also claims to reduce your electricity bills, to be independently certified, to be 50% more powerful and that it uses patented technology.

We submitted a complaint to the ASA about all of these claims and their adjudication is published today.

The advertiser did not provide robust evidence to support the advertised claims and the ASA ruled that the ad made efficacy claims for the relief of conditions where advice, diagnosis or treatment should only be conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional.

The advertiser did not provide a CE Certification from a Notified Body in support of the claim that it was 'independently EC mark certified'.

The advertiser said he was comparing the product with the US product and that the UK one was 50% more powerful because of the differing voltage ratings. The ASA concluded that because the advertiser had not provided evidence that the product was 50% more powerful than a previous model available in the UK, that he had not substantiated the claim and that it was misleading.

The advertiser did not provide details of any UK patents, the ASA concluded that this claim was misleading.

The advertiser did not provide evidence to support the claim that the device reduced electricity bills.

In this one quarter-page ad on its own, the ASA upheld all six issues and identified a total of 12 CAP Code breaches.

As we've said previously, ASA adjudications apply to the same claims made elsewhere — the medium of the advert is irrelevant, so the same claims must now be removed from their website as well.


The 'miracle enzyme', apparently.

Also in the September issue, this ad by Good Health Naturally stated:

Serrapeptase is making headway in the natural health industry as the ‘must have’ dietary supplement. May help to support healthy:

  • Joints & Tendons
  • Bronchial & Lung Function
  • Veins & Arteries
  • Digestive System & Colon
  • Heart & Circulation
  • Relief from Trauma, Swelling (eg post operative) & Sports Injury

What is Serrapeptase?

Also known as the ‘miracle enzyme’ it is a critical & multifunctional proteolytic enzyme can help to support healthy inflammation. Unhealthy inflammation is one of the major factors in the majority of modern day health issues.

Its wide use throughout the past 30 years include 23 studies, successful use by doctors throughout the world, and a fantastic library of testimonials.

With all those 23 studies, it should have been easy to persuade the ASA that they could substantiate their claims. However, they only sent 15 documents to support their claims.

They did agree to remove one of the 'help to support healthy' claims, but tried to argue that they weren't making health claims at all because they didn't mention any health conditions or names of diseases and that they only stated that their product 'may' help.

They also agreed to remove other claims but insisted the ad did not make medicinal claims.

The ASA disagreed, saying that they considered the claims to be health claims. Of the 15 documents the advertiser provided to the ASA, 13 were abstracts of papers, one was a letter to a pharmacology journal and the one study was about serrapaptase in rats, not humans. The ASA concluded that they were not adequate to substantiate the claims.

After consulting the MHRA, who concluded that some medical claims were being made, but that the product was not classed as a medicine, the ASA considered it as an ad for a food supplement for which no medicinal claims are permitted.

In total, the adjudication upheld all four point and notched up six CAP Code breaches.


The adjudication on the Stetzer device in particular has made a significant impact on the number of CAP Code breaches accumulated so far:

WDDTY CAP Code 16-01-2013

After just five adjudications, adverts in What Doctors Don't Tell You have amassed 35 CAP Code breaches — mainly for unsubstantiated health claims and misleading advertising.

How long will this continue?

keyboardProgrammer required

Thanks for all the offers to help us. We'll make a decision shortly, but if there are any other JavaScript programmers out there who have some time to spare and who would like to help us, please let us know by Friday 18 January. If you're interested  — and especially if you have experience writing Google Chrome extensions — please contact us with an outline of your skills and skeptic credentials.

16 January 2013