This May Be Fair Trading – Then Again, It May Not.

Today, the Office of Fair Trading has published its findings into a company that promotes the use of Magnetic Bandages for healing wounds and treating pain. According to the OFT press release,

Magnopulse Limited, a company which manufactures and sells magnetic therapy products for humans and animals, including leg wraps, back pads and neck wraps, pet collars and pet beds, has agreed to change its advertising following action by the OFT.

It looks like Magnopulse have been bad boys an girls by making claims about their products that really do not hold up, according to the OFT. And, it looks like Magnopulse do not agree with this finding. However, they have agreed a compromise with the OFT, and so Magnopulse adverts will change (just after the stock of old ones has run out). I guess the disagreement was over the evidence for the claims being made. After all, their web site is full of articles showing how effective magnetic bandages can be. Is this just down to an interpretation of evidence and an over-zealous regulator? Who is right here?

Now, as I have said many a time – the words ‘magnet’ and ‘healing’ do not belong together. Spotting these words near each other earns Canard points on the Quackometer. There is plenty written on this subject and I don’t want to go over old ground. What caught my attention was the extent to which Magnopulse tried to publish ‘research’ on their web site. This obviously looks impressive and is a step up from the usual testimonials found on quack web sites. If this research is good then I will undoubtedly have to adjust the quackometer accordingly.

Let’s look at one of the ‘published’ studies on the Magnopulse web site, Effects of 4Ulcercare on Leg Ulcer Recurrence and The Potential Cost Savings to The NHS.

How could the average person tell if this was good or bad research? At first pass, the results look quite interesting – a huge reduction in leg ulcers for people who have used the bandages.

But the reality is a lot more shaky. And in fact, there are a number of big give aways – and luckily, we don’t have to get too technical, understand trial procedures in detail, or have a PhD in statistics.

First, how do we know that it was the bandage that caused the reduction in leg ulcers? There is no control group to see how people would do without magnetic bandages. This is fundamental. All experiments need a control of some sort. This has none. In fact, what is going in here is just a group of researchers ringing up customers and asking them if they feel OK and how their ulcers are (‘Not too bad dear, mustn’t grumble’). Were the patients receiving other treatments that might have cured them? We don’t know. What if they had done nothing and just let them heal? Again, no idea. And so on.

Bizarrely, the study excludes people it rang up whose ulcers had not healed and then claims that “no subjects had ulcers that failed to heal or got worse whilst using the device”. It should add of course, “apart from the ones we excluded because their ulcers did not heal.” This is a bit like excluding all grey haired people and then claiming that magnetic bandages give your hair a natural rich colour.

The big giveaways are though that this ‘paper’ looks like a targeted mailshot to the NHS. It is concentrating on how much can be saved by buying these bandages. The paper is not published anywhere and ends with a URL of where you can buy the products. It is marketing.

Other studies have been published on the site and written up for journals. But it looks like their are some commonalities here in that the studies appear to all suffer from major methodological flaws which mean that it is impossible to draw conclusion from them. Even the NHS was compelled to issue a critical analysis in 2005 after several newspapers flaunted the companies products on the back of dodgy studies. (No prizes for guessing which paper…)

The writer of just about all these reports appears to be a Dr Nyjon Eccles BSc MBBS MRCP PhD. Nyjon runs a clinic in London that appears to offer all sorts of naturopathic and ‘alternative’ views on medicine.

Here is one example of Dr Nyjon Eccles fabulous pieces of pseudo-scientific, cancer-curing quackery:

LYMPH DETOXIFICATION – This is achieved by non-invasive scalar, oxygen-fed light beam therapy. This helps to detoxify the tissues by assisting the body in dissolving lymph blockages and restoring normal lymph flow using the Nobel quantum scalar technology coupled with oxygen for enhanced healing potential.

One has to ask why someone who promotes herbs for cancer patients, detoxification programmes, nutritional therapies and other dubious techniques is being used to look into the effectiveness of magnets in bandages? One possible explanation is that Dr Eccles may have ‘alternative’ standards of evidence and may not be quite so rigorous in his testing as would be expected, thus leading to good marketing material, even if the bandages are ineffective.

Now notice, I use the word ‘may’ in the above sentence. Dr Eccles may be a very thorough researcher with just one or two minor slips (we are all human). On the other hand, he may be thoroughly useless. For all I know, he may have two heads, and may be a baby murderer. And yes, I don’t know for sure. I may just have unfounded suspicions.

‘May’ is a great word. And I am sure it the favourite word of Dr Eccles and all those at Magnopulse today. The Office of Fair Trading has allowed them to continue to advertise as long as they use this word in front of claims of effectiveness. For example,

The OFT’s action was settled on the basis that Magnopulse Limited and its officers, Derek and Wendy Price, have given undertakings to the court that they will not make advertising claims stating or giving the impression that: magnetic products will produce a therapeutic effect for those who wear or use them (as opposed to saying that they may have such an effect and/or some trials have shown that there may be such an effect and/or some consumers have reported such an effect)

So, I wish I could get the quackometer to spot all these ‘mays’. It is another good giveaway that something is not right with health claims. Magnopulse may go on making dubious claims and may continue to trade and may rip people off. I am rather left with the impression that the OFT may be a waste of space.

On this theme…

25 Comments on This May Be Fair Trading – Then Again, It May Not.

  1. EoR wonders why believers in the wonderful powers of random magnets randomly attached to random parts of the body don’t just strap mobile phones to themselves…

    For those who are as ancient as EoR, Eccles is the name of the arch-idiot in the Goons (The Goon Show Site: “The Famous Eccles, complete and utter idiot. An amiable, well-meaning man with no wits or understanding.”).

  2. Amusingly, the Google ad at the top of the page is advertising hot and cold pulsed magnet therapy for people and pets. *boggles*

    Dr Crippen had the same problem over at nhsdocblog when he wrote a long post about the crapness of homeopathy and the blog was infected with two column’s worth of homeopathy ads. Shame Google ads aren’t good at judging their context.

  3. Thanks for all infomation.I was going to buy Magnopulse LegCare for mum who suffer knee pain and my husband. I have tried to ask few questions through their web. No reply. So I could not trust them. I was lucky then. Their leaflet was so convinced me. I nearly waste £71(special offer 2 leg wrap plus 4Pain £68 plus £3 postage)!

    • I have gone to bed wearing magnopulse knee wraps (both legs) for many years now. They are absolutely brilliant. I know you wrote this two or three years ago but I hope you might see my reply. If I forget to put the magnet wraps on, I don’t sleep anywhere near as soundly or as long (this has happened too many times for it to be a coincidence). I thought I would be in a wheelchair by now, so bad was the pain in my knees and ankles 5 or 6 years ago. I am still a little achey when I get tired but I hit the ground running every morning. This used not to be the case – in fact I could barely move my feet or my knees until I had walked around for a while. I actually feel quite panicky if I forget to take them away with me. Blow the so-called scientific evidence – the proof of the pudding is what counts. They work for me and this is NOT a figment of my imagination, wishful thinking or anything else. They work. Full stop.

  4. Have to say my older sister bought Magnopulse LadyCare and it was excellent, was the only thing that helped her, despite trying everything.

    Try calling them they are very helpful over the phone, personally I’d reccomend them to anyone.

  5. Quacktor Eccles also stars in Juice Plus’s DVD promotion.

    You must watch it.

    Juice Plus / Magnet peddlers. You’ve got 3 things going against you from the word go:

    1) I don’t trust you just looking at you, Quacktor Eccles.

    2) When a doctor stars in a manufacturer’s DVD to recommend their product it utterly destroys any credibility he claims. So bad luck Juice Plus and Magnet freaks.

    3) I’ve listened to the official Juice Plus mantra at business networking meetings up and down the UK. Big mistake to make your paid Quacktor chant exactly the same mantra, word for word as your Network Marketing-addicted salespeople.

    Stupid marketing – and that’s without even having to rubbish the ‘evidence’.

    Damnitt. I’ve been trying to avoid MLM bashing and quack bashing… NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO REALISE MY DESTINY AS THE SWORN ENEMY OF MULTILEVEL MARKETERS EVERYWHERE *gasp* and it’s all your fault. 🙂

  6. OK big guy, explain this. I have suffere crippling period pains since the age of 11. NOTHING helped. I was even prescibed painkillers tht have now been taken off the market, just 1 step down from morphine. They didn’t work. The next step was a hysterectomy. I discovered magnopulse 8 months ago. Since then I have not looked back. I am off the waiting list for the major op. All I need now to control the odd niggle is 1 over the counter paracetamol,on day 1. THATD IT. MAGNOPULSE WORKS.DON’T KNOCK WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.There is more to healing than toxic chemical drugs churned out for immense profit by huge pharacetical companies.

  7. I have read your various comments about Dr Eccles…..you clearly do not know the man and therefore have no right to comment about his integrity!! As for those of you who cast derrogatory comments you show yourself up to be the small and bitter minds that you really are! You are the worst kind of human being! I have been greatly helped by Magnopulse’s magnet therapy when nothing else has helped!! I have friends with the same beneficial experience! Seems to me you need to become better informed about this subject…because as incredible as it may seem to your obviously biased and uninformed little minds…there is clearly something in this! And by the way, I have met Dr Eccles…..you will not meet many other doctors with such a high level of intregrity and honesty!!! Shame your site does not have the same ingredients!!!

  8. I have to say, I have the mn8 for eliminating period pain and it works. Psychosomatic? Maybe. Do I care? Not really. Besides the fact that lady cycles are regulated by the moon and it’s magnetic force anyway… so… it doesn’t seem incredibly farcical.

  9. Magno pulse wrist band completely cured me of crippling wrist pain that was so bad I had to get other people to write out checques for me

    SO I gave one to my very old very cynical very arthritic father – who was not grateful – thought what a waste of money it would be. He was so impressed he spent over £220 on their underlay blanket and sleeps pain free as a result.

    Just because you can’t prove that something works – doesn’t mean it that it doesn’t.

  10. After over 2000 hours continuous wear (excluding morning shower time) the result ….. absolutely nothing. No discernible change/improvement whatsoever. At least, faced with this irrefutable failure, Magno-pulse had the grace to say that ‘I was one of the unlucky ones’
    At no extra charge I am adding this to Dr Eccles failure list thereby increasing it by 7%. (His list, 350 @ 96% claimed success = 4% fail = 14 plus 1 = 7% increase)
    I know of at least one other similar failure should the need arise.

  11. You sceptics demonstrate only your ignorance. Pains caused by misuse (bad posture, high heels and other far more subtle, detailed and ubiquitous modern day forms of misuse) almost certainly will not be relieved by magnets, but issues such as arthritis and rheumatism, menopause and poor circulation almost certainly will.

  12. With the greatest respect to ‘Sally’ I’m not quite clear where the ignorance comes in? My knee was an arthritic condition (professionally diagnosed). Before purchase I phoned MagnoP to describe the symptoms and what the knee would and would not do and to ask if the magnetic wraps might be expected to assist? The reply was ‘it is just what the knee wrap was designed for’. I have already reported that the result was a complete failure.
    Like most other things in this world it is not straightforward black or white. There seems little doubt that the magnawraps do help some people. There is also no doubt that they do nothing for others. I feel that the 96% claimed success rate is, for whatever reason, significantly inaccurate. My GP’s comment was that ‘medicine isn’t like that, if it were our waiting rooms would be empty! Finally I think the company’s advertising/claims is/are exaggerated as apparently established (twice?) by the appropriate authority through the courts some years back. (See earlier this website.)

  13. I know a few people who have been helped by magnet therapy. I wonder if the author of this column realises that Big Pharma is all but wiping out any attemps to bring in new medicines/treatments. Its costs 25 million dollars (yes 25 million dollars!) for the FDA to license any new drug, so what chance of anything new and effective being given a chance. Here’s an example for you. Lifes2Good internet distributor/manufacturer used to market a wonderful patch called Painease, which worked with some kind of microcurrent (not magnets). It was the only apparently harmless treatment that helped my friend with her severe ankylosing spondulitis, a painful spinal condition. She’s tried all kinds of other patches and is now reliant on strong painkillers when she just can’t bear the pain. Lifes2Good have had to abandon the production of Painease as they could not get the right quality for a viable price. They have been inundated with disappointed complaints. They will never get anywhere with Big Pharma and the greedy FDA. So sad.

  14. I know quite a few people who have been helped by magnet therapy. I wonder if the author of this column realises that Big Pharma is all but wiping out any attemps to bring in new medicines/treatments. Its costs 25 million dollars (yes 25 million dollars!) for the FDA to license any new drug, so what chance of anything new and effective being given a chance. Here’s an example for you. Lifes2Good internet distributor/manufacturer used to market a wonderful patch called Painease, which worked with some kind of microcurrent (not magnets). It was the only apparently harmless treatment that helped my friend with her severe ankylosing spondulitis, a painful spinal condition. She’s tried all kinds of other patches and is now reliant on strong painkillers when she just can’t bear the pain. Lifes2Good have had to abandon the production of Painease as they could not get the right quality for a viable price. They have been inundated with disappointed complaints. They will never get anywhere with Big Pharma and the greedy FDA. So sad.

  15. We have used magnetics for over 15 years to help with knee pain, back pain and more. Not this particular one. However, the healing power of magnetics go back hundreds of years and there are many books written about their power. so if you try this you may not find benefit and you’ve lost a few dollars. If you do benefit, how do you calculate the gain? I am in no way associated with this company or product, I am just tired of people not taking their own health in their own hands. Do you know that traditional medicine practices are the number 4 taker of life in this country behind heart disease, cancer and diabetes? Yes #4, due to drugs, surgeries and infections contracted during hospital stays. I’d say spending a few dollars on an alternative that has NO bad side effects accept the loss of those few dollars if it doesn’t work is a risk worth taking. The simple answer is that magnetics increase blood flow which increases oxygen which is healing. Other ways to accomplish this without spending the money on an experiment with this device or others that are similar? Eat a diet of clean foods including organic greens and meat from sources that raise the stock similar to 100 years ago. Exercise daily, simple stretches, meditation or prayer be consistent. Work at health and health will arrive. And/Or Pick a device that has the potential to help or not, but won’t harm you or a drug that has the potential to help or not, but could possibly kill you. All of these posts are looking for someone or something to blame, take responsibility and free yourselves.

  16. To Nimrod,

    Your doctor’s comment that the waiting rooms would be empty if “modern” medicine didn’t work is over simplistic.
    People aren’t quick to change. The media which is a daily dose of thought to most people is filled with drug ads, doctor “approved” and more that support the status quo. People WANT to believe they can trust that what has been part of their lives and is supported by the media is correct. It’s easier and comforting to believe you don’t have to vet everything thing yourself.

    Modern Medicine does help if you need trauma care or life saving surgery.

    But if you have a dis-ease it is treated with drugs and repeat doctor visits…maybe that explains the full waiting room.

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