Homeopathic group says ASA ruling was “attack on CAM”

The homeopathy action group H:MC21 and its supporters last week gathered outside the Advertising Standards Authority in protest at a ruling by the ASA on the promotion of homeopathic medicine.

The ASA recently launched an investigation into claims made for homeopathy on several websites after receiving “a large number of complaints”. Complainants argued that homeopathic websites were breaking the Advertising Code by being unable to substantiate claims for efficacy and potentially dissuading people from seeking advice from doctors for serious health conditions.

The Authority targeted the website of the Society of Homeopaths in a test case because it considered that the organization “would have the relevant evidence”. After an unnamed ‘expert’ had examined evidence submitted by the Society, the ASA decided to uphold the complaints and instructed the Society not to place ads in future that either “discourage essential treatment” or make health claims “unless they held sufficiently robust evidence of efficacy”.

H:MC21 believes the ASA ruling amounts to an attack on homeopathy – and complementary medicine more widely.

In statement, the group said: “The ASA’s handling of H:MC21’s case has serious implications for the general public, even those who only use orthodox medicine. The ASA has endorsed unscientific and propagandist arguments which threaten the safety of all those who use conventional drugs.

“This case has also acted as a catalyst to bring together homeopaths and other CAM practitioners in united action. Our protest, as always, involved people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, including homeopaths and patients, but on this occasion it specifically included other CAM practitioners and patients.

“We are discovering that there are many other cases where the ASA has employed the same tactics exposed in our case, but in each case people thought that they could only act alone. By publicly challenging the ASA we have given a lead for a concerted response.”