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Hope's Relief Cream - Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd - Complaint No. 2012-05-025

9 May 2014

Decision under regulation 9 of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990

Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd has been ordered to undertake a number of actions regarding a newspaper advertisement for the product Hope's Relief Cream, including but not limited to withdrawing the advertisement and publishing a retraction on its website.

The newspaper advertisement, which was published in the Sunday Mail on 20 May 2012, was the subject of a complaint made to the Complaints Resolution Panel (the Panel) on 21 May 2012 (complaint no. 2012-05-025).

On 30 January 2013, the Panel issued a written determination that the newspaper advertisement breached sections of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007 (the Code).

On 28 February 2013, as a result of Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd not fully complying with the Panel's determination, the Panel recommended the TGA delegate of the Secretary of the Department of Health (the Delegate) review the matter.

Following investigation, the Delegate's decision was made on 20 January 2014.

The decision

The Delegate found that the newspaper advertisements:

  1. contained claims which the sponsor had not previously verified and was therefore in breach of section 4(1)(b) of the Code
  2. was likely to arouse unwarranted and unrealistic expectations of product effectiveness and was therefore in breach of section 4(2)(a) of the Code
  3. was misleading or likely to be misleading and was therefore in breach of section 4(2)(c) of the Code
  4. contained unverified and misleading representations that abused the trust and exploited the lack of knowledge of consumers, and was therefore in breach of section 4(2)(d) of the Code
  5. implied endorsement by a person whom a consumer might reasonably believe to be a health professional and was therefore in breach of section 4(6)(b) of the Code.

The order

The Delegate ordered Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd to:

  1. withdraw the newspaper advertisement, which was published in the Sunday Mail on 20 May 2012, from further publication
  2. withdraw any express or implied representations that the advertised product or its ingredients are of proven or scientifically proven effectiveness in relation to:
    • eczema
    • psoriasis
    • itchy dry skin or scalp
    • healing or aiding healing.
  • And withdraw any representations that:
    • the product can stimulate or activate the healing process
    • the product may work instantaneously
    • the product is endorsed or was developed by naturopaths or a naturopath
    • other products may contain only 'token' or ineffective quantities of active ingredients.
  1. not use the representations in (b) above in any other advertisement
  2. where the representations have been provided to other parties, such as retailers or website publishers, and where there is a reasonable likelihood that the representations have been published or are intended to be published by such parties, to advise them that the representations should be withdrawn
  3. arrange for the publication of a retraction on its website in the form noted below.

Conditions imposed on the order

Additionally, the Delegate imposed the following conditions under regulation 9(2) in relation to the order:

  1. within 10 working days of being notified of this order, Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd will provide evidence of compliance with this order
  2. within 10 working days of being notified of this order, Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd will provide a written response indicating that it will continue to abide by this order.

Retraction notice

The below retraction notice appeared in the Sunday Mail on 16 March 2014.

RETRACTION

An advertisement published in the Sunday Mail newspaper supplement "Body and Soul" on 20 May 2012 promoting the product "Hope's Relief Cream" (also known as "Hope's Relief Premium Eczema Cream"), was misleading and abused the trust of consumers, and should not have been published.

In the advertisement, Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd unlawfully made claims that the product could stimulate or activate the healing process, and that it was proven or scientifically proven to be effective in the relief of conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and an itchy dry skin or scalp.

A complaint about the advertisement was upheld by the Complaints Resolution Panel. The evidence provided by Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd did not support the claims made in the advertisement, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.

The advertisement also differed significantly from that which had been approved, and was in breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act, and included an endorsement by a Naturopath in breach of the Code.

Following receipt of the Panel's determination and recommendation that Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd be ordered to take action to comply with the therapeutic goods legislation, the delegate of the Secretary for Health considered the information before her and decided to order, amongst other things, that Body and Soul Health Products Pty Ltd publish this retraction.

The full text of the Panel's determination can be found at: Complaints Register

A summary of the Secretary's delegate's order under regulation 9 of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations can be found at: Decisions in relation to complaints about advertisements.