One of the adverts under a post I’d written on homeopathy led me to this page. A member of the Society of Homeopaths was claiming on their website to be able to cure a number of conditions – including herpes, depression, allergies, and chronic headaches. As the Nightingale Collaboration pointed out earlier this year, the ASA were:
…seeking to enforce compliance with the Code even-handedly across the sector by contacting all of the advertisers we have received complaints about as well as the bodies that represent homeopaths and homeopathy in the UK.
The ASA themselves have announced that they have told marketers of homeopathic treatments and services about whom they’ve received a complaint “to remove marketing claims that refer to, or imply, the efficacy of homeopathy for treating or helping specific health conditions“. The ASA considers there is insufficient robust scientific evidence to support these claims. The ASA also say that they will monitor these websites from July to see whether the necessary changes have been made.
The ASA said they had contacted the bodies that represent homeopaths and homeopathy in the UK. The Society of Homeopaths declared that they welcomed the ASA’s investigation into the evidence for homeopathy. Lesley Wilkinson is a member of the SoH. So why, as of today, were the claims to be able to treat specific health conditions still showing on Lesley Wilkinson’s website?
Here’s a sample quote, from a section headlined ‘what can I treat?’:
Health problems that can respond well to homeopathy include eczema, asthma, hayfever, acne and skin problems, menstrual and menopausal problems, bowel and urinary problems, migraine and recurrent illnesses like tonsillitis.
It seems to me that this page does not comply with the code, and should have been changed. As well as benefitting from an initial 6-month grace period, homeopaths were given an additional three months to get their websites in order. This should have been more than enough time to comply.
Rather than trouble the ASA with fresh complaints at a time when they are likely to be busy, I decided to send this homeopath a polite email asking if they intended to amend their website to ensure compliance with advertising codes.
Update: [12:40pm] Lesley Wilkinson has replied to my email, stating that the page will be removed (hopefully within the next week or two). [16:40pm] Scratch that – the website has already been updated and claims to treat or cure removed.
See also: Le Canard Noir on Desperate Homeopaths.
Some Alt Med practitioners advertise their services via Google ads. These ads often appear under skeptic blogposts (which the authors can probably see when they are logged out). Alt Med practitioners might like to weigh the benefits of advertising against the potential risks (being written about by skeptic bloggers, being reported to regulatory bodies etc).