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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19608

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Medew J
Authorities move to dump conman's weight-loss spray from market
The Age 2011 Aug 11

Full text:

A HERBAL diet spray linked to notorious conman Peter Foster looks set to be taken off the market, six months after health authorities first received a complaint about it.
Last week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s complaints resolution panel called for SensaSlim to be removed from the register of therapeutic goods, which means the spray cannot be advertised or sold.
Executive officer of the panel, Judith Brimer, asked the TGA to cancel its listing after SensaSlim Australia failed to withdraw advertising that lacked approval. A spokeswoman for the TGA said it was considering the request.
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The panel’s call comes six months after Melbourne academic Ken Harvey first complained about the product, prompting SensaSlim Australia to launch a defamation case against him.
The action meant the complaints resolution panel could not process complaints against the company because regulation prevents it from doing so when legal action is under way. However, in a decision reached last week, the panel said it had found cause to act because the advertising complaint was a separate matter.
The panel’s bid to shut down SensaSlim comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged in the Federal Court that Foster and three other men had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct to promote the spray.
The group said a Swiss research institute had carried out the world’s largest clinical trial of the product.
They said the spray had ‘‘potent active ingredients’‘ that would help users ‘‘lose weight in their sleep’‘.
Six weeks ago The Age revealed the institute appeared to have been fabricated with photos of executives on its website who were American lung specialists. The doctors knew nothing about SensaSlim.
On July 27, the ACCC won orders in the Federal Court for the company to change the front page of its website to inform visitors of the legal action against it. While the notice was required to be posted within five business days, it did not appear on the site yesterday.
Meanwhile, Dr Harvey continues to defend the defamation case launched against him by the company, which is seeking $800,000 damages. Dr Harvey said he hoped the case, which has cost him about $30,000 to date, would be dismissed this month. Supporters are raising money to cover his costs.
More than 100 franchisees are believed to have paid $60,000 each to sell SensaSlim, which has sold for about $1200 a litre or $60 for a 50 millilitre bottle.


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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963