Advertising Standards Authority
Adjudication on Bicom UK LLP

Bicom UK LLP

PO Box 386
Leeds
LS19 9HZ

Date:

28 January 2015

Media:

Magazine, Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

2

Complaint Ref:

A14-280829

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Six issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.

Ad

A magazine ad and three of the advertiser's own websites.

a. The magazine ad stated "WHAT DOCTORS CAN'T TELL YOU We can, with Bioresonance, treat the cause and not the symptoms by working at cellular level! Allergy Food Intolerance Bacterial and fungal infections Virus and toxins The above items and many more have been treated successfully for over 30 years in humans and over 10 years with animals. Many experience complete recovery without the side effects of drugs … 48HR TEST RESULT Can Save Your Life! Try our Home BLOOD TEST Kits Blood test from own home Easy to use kit 48 hour returned results Only need a drop of blood (unlike other tests) Allergies, Parasites, Toxins, Virus's [sic] and many other tests available".

b. Claims on www.reson8.uk.com included "Disorders Hayfever & Allergies Cancer Depression Smoking Weight Gain Electronic Smog Asthma Digestive Skin problems Gastro-intestinal diseases Auto Immune diseases Infectious diseases Neurological disorders Dental Pain Sports Injury Migraine". A video on the website gave details about how the treatment worked and featured individuals, some of whom were introduced as medical professionals, talking about how the treatment had helped a number of conditions including gut problems, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, allergies, neurodermatitis, ADHD and dental purposes. On a page, entitled "Bio-resonance treatment options for Ebola", text stated, "BICOM bioresonance therapy has been able to help many patients with just three or four sessions. Could this proven method of testing and treatment help people with Ebola and disable the virus early? Lets [sic] hope so …".

c. Claims on www.ebolatreatments.com included "Ebola Treatments and Testing: Give hope to those who need it most without medication! Bioresonance has not been tested or verified with the Ebola Virus, however it has been very successful with other hemorrhagic virus's [sic]. It is hoped that medical institutions in affected areas can apply our treatment protocols listed on this site and register their successful outcomes. We only use Class 2A medical devices such as the Bicom Optima which also is CE approved". Further text on a page entitled "Vaccine" stated "Ebola Vaccine No proven vaccine currently exists but … A bioresonance company in Australia has had some success preparing travellers against other pathogens like Bird Flu, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, Yellow Fever etc, in fact many pathogens can be used in a single tablet. The pathogenic frequencies are inverted and stored in pill form and taken during the trip".

d. Claims on www.blood-test.co.uk stated "Home Blood Testing … Allergy testing in the UK has never been easier … During the testing, the frequencies of most known substances are measured against your blood sample. Upon detection, frequency patterns that match emit a "resonance" which is then recorded. The substances which contribute to your stress, or are likely to cause stress, or that may have caused stress in the past are rendered identifiable … For a fast, affordable, reliable and convenient home blood test service you need look no further than Blood Test UK … Order a free allergy test kit now".

Issue

The ASA received complaints from The Nightingale Collaboration and a member of the public. The Nightingale Collaboration challenged whether:

1. The efficacy claims in ad (a) were misleading and could be substantiated;

2. The implied claim in ad (b) that bioresonance could treat the listed disorders was misleading and could be substantiated;

3. The efficacy claims in ad (b) were misleading and could be substantiated;

4. The efficacy claims in ad (c) were misleading and could be substantiated;

5. The Nightingale Collaboration also challenged whether ads (a), (b) and (c) discouraged essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

6. One complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims for food intolerance testing in ad (d) were misleading and could be substantiated.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. - 6. Bicom UK LLP said the claims were carefully worded, not making reference to the effectiveness of the treatment, and a disclaimer on their websites encouraged people to visit their doctor if they had a serious condition. They said that the listed disorders were being treated on a daily basis by 15,000 practitioners. They provided a 2009 press release following a German court case, which cited a decision not to impose an injunction on Bicom's claim to treat allergies, and an academic paper, which explored the electromagnetic effects on humans.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA considered that consumers would interpret claims such as "Allergy Food Intolerance Bacterial and fungal infections Virus and toxins The above items and many more have been treated successfully for over 30 years in humans and over 10 years with animals" and "WHAT DOCTORS CAN'T TELL YOU We can, with Bioresonance, treat the cause and not the symptoms" to mean that bioresonance could effectively treat the listed conditions. While we noted Bicom provided an academic paper about electromagnetic effects in humans and a document that cited a decision made in a German court to allow Bioresonance therapists to claim they could treat allergies, we were concerned that they did not provide robust scientific evidence, such as clinical trials, to substantiate the likely interpretation that bioresonance could successfully treat the listed disorders. We reminded them of their obligations under the CAP Code to hold appropriate evidence to substantiate claims. Because Bicom did not provide adequate evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims, we concluded the ad was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

2. Upheld

We noted Chron's disease, depression, migranes and asthma were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. Marketers therefore must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment was conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. We had not seen evidence to demonstrate that the advertised service was carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified medical professional. We noted hayfever, allergic rhinitis, smoking cessation, digestive problems, gastroenteritis, neuralgia, sports injuries, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome were conditions for which evidence should be sought by the ASA or CAP. While Bicom said they had included a disclaimer on their website encouraging people to visit their doctor if they had a serious condition, we considered that, in the overall context of the ad, consumers would understand the claims to mean that the advertised service was effective in treating the listed conditions, and the disclaimer contradicted that impression. Because Bicom had not provided robust evidence to support the efficacy claims, we concluded that they were unsubstantiated and likely to mislead.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.1 and 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

3. Upheld

We considered that consumers would interpret the written list of conditions and mention of various conditions in the video, particularly within the context of an ad promoting a type of treatment, to mean that bioresonance could effectively treat the referenced conditions. Although we acknowledged that some of the references to the treatment in the video were intended to reflect the subjective views and experiences of past clients, we considered that some of the claims, such as "Bioresonance therapy has proved itself in our clinic" and "there is a wealth of information available …I'd say about twenty years of clinic experience available", were presented in factual terms. We considered claims such as these would be taken by consumers to be objective claims that were supported by evidence and went beyond expressions of opinion. We expected to see strong documentary evidence, such as clinical trials, to substantiate the claims. Because Bicom did not provide adequate evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

4. Upheld

We considered the claim "Ebola Treatments and Testing: Give hope to those who need it most without medication!" would be interpreted to mean that the therapy promoted in the ad could have an effective impact on Ebola. We also considered the claims "Bioresonance has not been tested or verified with the Ebola Virus, however it has been very successful with other hemorrhagic virus's [sic]" and "A bioresonance company in Australia has had some success preparing travellers against other pathogens" also contributed to that impression that the treatment could be effective against Ebola and there was evidence to demonstrate that. We therefore expected to see strong documentary evidence, such as clinical trials, to substantiate the likely interpretation of the claims. In the absence of sufficient evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims, we concluded the ad was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

5. Upheld

The CAP Code stipulated that marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We noted that Chron's disease, depression and asthma were conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ads that the listed conditions could be treated by the bioresonance therapy. Because they made reference to those conditions, we considered that they discouraged readers from seeking essential treatment for them and were therefore irresponsible.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

6. Upheld

We considered consumers would interpret claims such as "For a fast, affordable, reliable and convenient home blood test service you need look no further than Blood Test UK", "Allergy testing in the UK has never been easier" and "During the testing, the frequencies of most known substances are measured against your blood sample … the substances which contribute to your stress, or are likely to cause stress, or that may have caused stress in the past are rendered identifiable" to mean that the therapy could determine what allergies a consumer had. While we noted Bicom provided an academic paper about electromagnetic effects in humans, we expected to see strong scientific evidence, such as clinical trials, to substantiate the claims. We reminded Bicom of their obligations under the CAP Code to hold appropriate evidence. In absence of that, we concluded the ad was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action

The ads must not appear in their current form. We told Bicom UK LLP to ensure that they held adequate substantiation for the efficacy claims made in their advertising and did not offer treatment or discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

This page was posted on January 28, 2015.

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