|My apologies to Ms Schimmel - I see I have misspelled her name throughout the above comment.|
|Ms Shimmel’s article is deficient in the truth in a number of places. |
I am merely Mr. Kevin Charleston. I do not possess, nor have I ever claimed to possess, any qualification which would allow me to use the title “Dr.” – this simple fact could easily have been checked by the author.
The claim that I am “committed to keeping the complementary medicines industry underground” borders on defamatory. At worst, I am merely committed to ensuring that the advertisers and promoters of complementary medicines make claims they can prove. If they want to be labelled ‘medicines’ then they deserve to stand up to the efficacy, safety and quality controls of medicines. Otherwise they should be advertised as ‘magic potions’. Or is Shimmel suggesting that the claims made by complementary medicine manufacturers cannot withstand the light of day, or rather – of reason?
Perhaps Ms Shimmel is attempting to demonise me because she is acting on behalf of a complementary medicine manufacturer who failed to provide to the ASA sufficient substantiation for the claims they make? She certainly cannot make any claim to be objective in this case. Despite Ms. Shimmel’s apparent belief, the insistence by the manufacturer that their claim is true, coupled with a few cherry-picked and largely irrelevant studies, does not make it so.
Ms Shimmel appears to argue that AIDS and Cancer are the only things for which Appendix F should have been relevant. Cancer falls way below Heart Attack and Stroke as a cause of death in South Africa (http://www.mrc.ac.za/bod/faqdeath.htm) – why restrict it only to those two? Ms Shimmel points to the “SOLAL TECH : OMEGA 3 & 6 / K CHARLESTON – 16711” matter as the key point for the ASA Board to decide to strip Appendix F from the code – I would concur with that belief. That matter, which originated from an advertising claim that Solal’s products may prevent “heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, diabetes and depression” (http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5946) was heard all the way through to the Final Appeal Committee; and was defended there on my behalf because it was important not only for AIDS and Cancer.
Shimmel’s argument that Appendix F should not have applied to Osteo-Arthritis is a bit like me complaining that a particular street should not have the speed-limit it does when I get a fine for it. I didn’t draw up the list, it was there in the code. If the list isn’t right – then that is something that Shimmel, the CAM manufacturers, the ASA, and the MCC should have addressed that over the past few years. She makes it clear she was involved in discussions around it. Solal attacked the whole of Appendix F rather than accept that they had breached the code.
It isn’t clear how Ms Shimmel believes I could ‘cow’ the ASA into anything. All I have done in these matters is lay complaints when I believe the code has been transgressed. That most of the complaints have been upheld is an indication to me that my reading of the advertising code is reasonable. Solal, on the other hand, have received a number of upheld complaints – and their response has been to litigate, with a suit against the ASA in High Court, and a complaint to the National Consumer Council.
Note: Solal have also sued me – for this article: http://www.quackdown.info/article/health-intelligence-magazine-it-marketing-or-education/
It isn’t clear what seems to irk Ms Shimmel more? That adverts making claims for AIDS and Cancer may get published (they already do, the ASA can only get involved after the fact and the small advertisers don’t seem to care) or that her customers could have been doing so with gay abandon for the past 6 months?
When discussing the decision around Appendix F, it is also surprising that Ms Shimmel does not mention the Appendix A issue. Appendix A refers to medicines and health advertising – and it was changed, without notice, to no longer apply to complementary and alternative medicines. If you read the detail of the 16711 (Solal Omega 3 & 6) matter, it is quite clear that this appendix was changed in between the flighting of the advert and the complaint being decided by the ASA. I.e. advertising of real medicines must comply with a higher level of standards than those of complementary or alternative medicines. I didn’t see any comment from Ms Shimmel then, and we see no reference here. Perhaps that is because at least one of her customers is a large CAM manufacturer?
There are several things Ms Shimmel writes with which I agree. It is absurd that the ASA Board sat on this matter for 6 months with no comment; and that the website still reflects Appendix F as being part of the code. I immediately informed the ASA of my dismay that they could not at least have updated the website – and yet there it remains 3 weeks later. I am led to believe that the Directorate of the ASA was not aware of the board decision – and this is apparent when one looks at the Directorate’s rulings since February: several refer to Appendix F as if it were still in place.
|The "large pharmaceutical company" to which Chris Moerdyk refers is Solal Technologies; actually a rather moderate sized 'neutraceutical' compay selling a wide range of alternative medicines. |
That is one example of the way Moeryk twists the truth in this article.
He is slso guilty of blatant falsehoods. I refer to the statement: "coming a small group of four health industry activists who by their own admission have never bought or used any of the company's products".
Many of the complaints with the ASA against Solal advertisements were laid by me – and I have never admitted anything of the sort.
Several of those complaints have received a response in my favour from the ASA - most have yet to have any decision because of ASA inefficiencies.
Let’s leave aside the fact that there is no requirement for a complainant to the ASA to actually have purchased the product in question.
And let’s leave aside the fact that I am a consumer of the adverts themselves – by virtue of their placement in the newspapers I read.
Lets also set aside the moral requirement of advertisers to tell the truth.
I am a consumer of health products.
I am a consumer of products that Solal sells.
My ex-wife used to buy plenty of Solal products – on a pharmacy account which I paid.
I personally have bought Solal products.
However – ever since their legal demand in response to my perfectly reasonable ASA complaints - I obviously no longer care to support them and buy competitors products instead.
Moerdyk is suggesting that I am one of the four who he claims has never consumed a Solal product – or that I am the ‘actual’ consumer who has only submitted one complaint.
Either way – the statement is wrong.
It is outrageous to claim that I am not a consumer. And that type of SLAPP action in response to valid complaints is an outrageous abuse of a financial imbalance.
I made it clear to Moerdyk in a private email ome months ago that I had consumed alternative health products.
It is irresponsible of one who commands the position he does to make false claims like this.
I agree with the thrust of the article, that the ASA does indeed need to get its act together.
But I am dubious about the ‘facts’ presented – like the above, I believe they are twisted to support his own views about unfettered and unregulated advertising.
Views which alarmingly appear to be aligned with the 'neutraceutical' company whose product he has punted in other articles, and who have been liberal with the truth in their advertising.
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