A database that tracks dubious medical claims.

Response number: 97

Responder: ASASA

Date of response: May 11, 2012

Type of response: ASA Directorate Ruling

The claims must be withdrawn and not used again

Claims dealt with in this response


Clicks / Prof F Bonnici / 19924
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Prof Francois Bonnici Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Clicks Group Limited Respondent

10 May 2012

Professor F Bonnici lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent's
pamphlet at the Clicks Pharmacy in Regent road Sea Point.

The pamphlet advertising contains information about a condition referred to
as "Adrenal Fatigue". It explains, inter alia, "What is Adrenal Fatigue",
lists symptoms claimed to be associated with "Adrenal Fatigue" and "What
Causes Adrenal Fatigue".

In essence, the complainant submitted that the pamphlet misinforms the
public about a condition that is not recognised by any health authority in
the world. While there are well defined adrenal disorders, "Adrenal Fatigue"
is not one of them. The complainant added that he has encountered incidents
where people insisted on consulting him in his practice as a specialist
endocrinologist, based on the information conveyed in the pamphlet and the
resulting self-diagnosis made. While the "treatment" recommended in the
advertising is harmless, unrelated to adrenal gland function and
ineffective, the fact remains that the information conveyed is untrue and
potentially harmful.

In light of the complaint Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code (Misleading
claims) was taken into consideration.

The respondent submitted that it has removed all pamphlets related to this
subject matter from its clinics, without any admission of liability. It also
elaborated on why it referred to this condition, explaining that the term
was coined by Dr James Wilson.

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by
the respective parties.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser
provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in
a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted
without considering the merits of the matter.

The respondent confirmed that the pamphlets related to the subject matter
were removed.

As this appears to adequately address the complainant's concerns, there is
no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this

The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the pamphlets are
withdrawn in their current format within the deadlines stipulated in Clause
15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and are not used again in future