Homeopathic Advertising: Actions of the British Advertising Standards Authority

July 10, 2015

In 2013, mainly in response to a campaign led by the Nightingale Collaboration, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concluded that there is there was no evidence of sufficiently high quality to claim that any homeopathic product is effective against any medical condition. The ASA’s policies are now embodied in a booklet called Guidance for Advertisers of Homeopathic Services, which states:

Claims to avoid

In the simplest terms, you should avoid using efficacy claims, whether implied or direct, that aren’t supported by robust evidence. If you are stating or implying that you, your service or a product can be effective in doing something, you need to ensure that you have the evidence to prove the claim.

If you are making claims for a homeopathic product, or for a treatment based on a specific product, or combination of products, you may only make such claims as are permitted by the product licence(s). You will need to consult the MHRA for advice on this point.

To date, the ASA has have not seen persuasive evidence to support claims that homeopathy can treat, cure or relieve specific conditions or symptoms. We understand this position is in line with other authoritative reviews of evidence.

We therefore advise homeopathy marketers to avoid making specific claims of efficacy for treatments where robust evidence is not held to substantiate them

Even if a specific product is not cited, marketers of homeopathy services should not state or imply that conditions or symptoms can be relieved or cured by homeopathy. This means marketing of homeopathy services should not use words such as ‘cure’ or ‘treat’, nor list medical conditions because the ASA has a long-standing position that, by doing so, readers are likely to infer that the conditions or symptoms listed can be alleviated. We advise that these claims are not used either directly or indirectly, including through the use of imagery.

The UK Medicines and and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (referred to above as MHRA), permits registered products to make claims “limited to the relief or treatment of minor symptoms or minor conditions. i.e symptoms or conditions which can ordinarily and with reasonable safety be relieved or treated without the supervision or intervention of a doctor.” It does not permit claims for “serious conditions.”

During the past five years, the ASA has upheld a total of 12 complaints against 11 advertisers of homeopathic products and/or treatment services. The list below describes most of the claims that were challeneged. The links go to the full ASA adjudications.

This page was posted on July 10, 2015.