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CRP 2012-03-028 Childhood Immunisation

CRP 2012-03-028 Childhood Immunisation

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Published by Joel Mayes
COMPLAINTS RESOLUTION PANEL DETERMINATION Complaint 2012-03-028 Childhood Immunisation Meeting held 19 July 2012

Complaint summary^
Complainant Advertiser Subject matter of complaint Type of determination Sections of the Code, Regulations or Act found to have been breached* Sections of the Code, Regulations or Act found not to have been breached* Sanctions

Requested anonymity Two Legs and Four Homeopathic Health Website advertisement Final Code sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(c), 4(2)
COMPLAINTS RESOLUTION PANEL DETERMINATION Complaint 2012-03-028 Childhood Immunisation Meeting held 19 July 2012

Complaint summary^
Complainant Advertiser Subject matter of complaint Type of determination Sections of the Code, Regulations or Act found to have been breached* Sections of the Code, Regulations or Act found not to have been breached* Sanctions

Requested anonymity Two Legs and Four Homeopathic Health Website advertisement Final Code sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(c), 4(2)

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Published by: Joel Mayes on Nov 05, 2012
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11/23/2012

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 Page 1 of 8
COMPLAINTS RESOLUTION PANEL DETERMINATIONComplaint 2012-03-028 Childhood ImmunisationMeeting held 19 July 2012Complaint summary^
Complainant
Requested anonymity
Advertiser
Two Legs and Four Homeopathic Health
Subject matter of complaint
Website advertisement
Type of determination
Final
Sections of the Code,Regulations or Act found tohave been breached*
Code sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(c), 4(2)(d), 4(2)(e), 4(2)(i), 5(2), 6(3)
Sections of the Code,Regulations or Act foundnot to have been breached*
None
Sanctions
Publication of a retractionWithdrawal of representationsWithdrawal of advertisement* only sections of the Code, Act, or Regulations that were part of the complaint or were raised by thePanel are listed
 
 Page 2 of 8
The advertisement(s)^
1.
 
The complaint concerned an internet advertisement published at the website
www.twolegsandfour.com.au
.2.
 
The advertisement promoted a collection of products called “Childhood Immunisation HPMedicines”. It stated that “the childhood diseases that mainstream medicine targets include pertussin(whooping cough), pneumococcal, lathyrus (polio), haemophilis, meningococcal, tetanus,morbillinum (measles), hepatitis B, rubella (optional as normally for girls only), and influenza” andthat “the diseases diphtheria, mumps, or chicken pox are no longer targeted in Australia, althoughthey are in other parts of the world [and] these can be purchased separately”. It directed readers to“further information on homeoprophylaxis (HP)”. It made reference to childhood vaccination andstated that “another option is to treat your child with homeopathic immunisation, also calledhomeoprophylaxis, HP.” It stated that “the remedies are taken orally, have no side effects, and arecompletely safe to use”.3.
 
The advertisement can be viewed in the relevant Appendix to this determination.
The product(s)
4.
 
The advertisement promoted Childhood Immunisation HP Medicines for pertussis, pneumococcaldisease, polio, haemophilis, meningococcal disease, tetanus, measles, hepatitis B, rubella, influenza,diphtheria, mumps, and chicken pox.
The advertiser(s)
5.
 
The advertiser was Two Legs and Four.
The complaint^
6.
 
The complainant requested anonymity.7.
 
The complainant stated that the advertisement represented the advertised products to be “a suitablealternative to the standard medical vaccination schedule”, and alleged that “there is no clinicalevidence in support of homeopathic vaccination”. The complainant alleged that the advertisementtherefore breached sections 4(2)(a), 4(2)(b), 4(2)(c), 4(2)(d), 4(2)(e), 4(2)(i), and 6(3) of the Code.
Additional matters raised by the Panel
8.
 
Under sub-regulation 42ZCAH(1), the Panel is empowered to raise matters other than those specifiedin the complaint, where the Panel is satisfied that the advertisement to which the complaint relatescontains matter that is not mentioned in the complaint, which may contravene the Act, Regulations, orthe Code in other ways. The Panel was so satisfied and raised the following additional matters:a)
 
possible breaches of section 4(1)(b) of the Code, because of the claims of product benefits in theadvertisements;b)
 
possible breaches of section 4(2)(b) of the Code because the advertisement could be likely to leadto consumers self-diagnosing or inappropriately treating potentially serious diseases;c)
 
possible breaches of section 5(2) of the Code because of references to “pertussin”, whoopingcough, pneumococcal, “lathyrus”, polio, “haemophilis”, meningococcal, tetanus, “morbillinum”,measles, hepatitis, rubella, influenza, diphtheria, mumps and chicken pox;
 
 Page 3 of 8
The advertiser’s response to the complaint^
9.
 
The advertiser argued that the complainant had expressed “a personal opinion”. The advertiserreferred to a Dr Golden, stating that he had completed a “PhD in homeoprophylaxis” and that “if thisis [regarded as] unsupportable by the complainant, then s/he surely has to find all university degreesand PhDs insupportable”. The advertiser referred the Panel to a website which was said to support theclaim that “there have… been many past epidemics and at least two major recent incidents wherebythe use of homeoprophylaxis has proved to be of great value”, and to several other websites said torelate to such matters as “the use of homeoprophylaxis in Cuba”.10.
 
The advertiser stressed a view that “homeoprophylaxis is NOT vaccination”, and argued that theadvertisement itself did not contain claims of product benefits.11.
 
The advertiser also suggested that it was the duty of the Panel to “spend time familiarising [itself]with the subject” of homeoprophylaxis.12.
 
The advertiser did not provide complete copies of any studies or other documentary material insupport of the representations made in the advertisement.
Findings of the Panel
13.
 
The Panel was satisfied that the advertisement, taken as a whole, clearly represented the advertisedproducts to constitute an effective alternative to vaccination, and to be effective in the prevention of,or immunisation against, childhood diseases including pertussis, pneumococcal disease, polio,haemophilis, meningococcal disease, tetanus, measles, hepatitis B, rubella, influenza, diphtheria,mumps, and chicken pox. The Panel was also satisfied that a reasonable consumer viewing theadvertisement would take it to convey that the products had been scientifically demonstrated to havesuch effects.14.
 
Section 4(1)(b) of the Code requires that advertisements for therapeutic goods “contain correct andbalanced statements only and claims which the sponsor has already verified.” Section 4(2)(a) of theCode prohibits representations that are “likely to arouse unwarranted and unrealistic expectations of product effectiveness”. Section 4(2)(c) of the Code prohibits representations that “mislead directly orby implication or through emphasis, comparisons, contrasts or omissions”. Section 4(2)(d) of theCode prohibits advertisements which “abuse the trust or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumersor contain language which could bring about fear or distress.”15.
 
The advertiser did not provide copies of any studies or other documentary material in support of theclaims made in the advertisement, only including links to material which the Panel foundunacceptable as supporting material for the claims. It should be noted, however, that the Panel has (inrelation to prior complaints) received a number of submissions related to homeoprophylaxis productsand has yet to see even minimally persuasive evidence in support of claims such as those made in theadvertisement. On the contrary, the Panel was satisfied that the present body of evidence is whollyunsupportive of claims about homeoprophylaxis such as those made in the advertisement.16.
 
In the absence of any persuasive submission from the advertiser, the Panel was satisfied that theadvertisement contained many representations that had not been verified, were not correct andbalanced, were likely to arouse unwarranted and unrealistic expectations, and were misleading, inbreach of sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), and 4(2)(c) of the Code. These included the representations thatthe advertised products constitute an effective alternative to vaccination, that they are effective in theprevention of, or immunisation against, childhood diseases including pertussis, pneumococcal disease,

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