The Advertising Standards Authority Seeks to Destroy Complementary Medicine–Apparently

jayney-goddard-788348This time, Jayney Goddard, who calls herself the President of The Complementary Medical Association, is calling on homeopaths and other quacks to provide evidence for her to take to the ASA that they are being very mean to them.

She has been circulating an email asking for evidence that the ASA has really hurt the feelings of people who make livings from selling superstitious and pseudoscientific forms of treatments. And hurting people’s feelings is bad.

Let’s remind ourselves what the ASA are really doing. Last night, I wrote about how the ASA investigated one of the UK’s largest homeopathic pharmacies that had been selling ‘remedy’ kits for travellers to prevent them catching fatal diseases. These kits do not work and by promoting such things, and denigrating real vaccinations, they put people’s lives at risk. If a few feelings are hurt upon the way then so be it.

Goddard claims she is meeting the ASA this Friday. She is taking along an advertising executive called David Hawkins who she describes as “a multi-award winning advertising and brand creation genius”. (Prizes for anyone who can detail these awards).

Also along for the ride is Dr Robert Verkerk and Meleni Aldridge from the Alliance for Natural Health. The ANH is an industry lobby group who work mainly for food supplement companies and spend much of their time lobbying the EU and governments to give such retailers an easy legislative life. They do this, of course, under the banner of ‘health freedom’ and people’s choice to ‘alleviate suffering’ through ‘natural health choices’.

It may be worth – just for the fun of it – going back a few years to when I first wrote about Jayney Goddard.

She had been appearing on TV – debating with a certain Simon Singh – about whether Homeopathy was a waste of money. She was very impressive and had lots of ‘research’ at her finger tips. She sounded too impressive and her online  list of qualifications, awards and distinctions were too good to be true.

Jayney had been describing herself as having a “Professorship from Mahendra Sanskrit University in Kathmandu”. She was “the world’s largest professional membership body for complementary medicine” and has “been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine”. She “studied homeopathy at Imperial College for five years and has won numerous awards”.

A little digging revealed that the Mahendra Sanskrit University  had been destroyed by Maoist rebels many years before. It also became clear that being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine required little more than a cheque for a few hundred pounds, and that, of course, Imperial College had never taught homeopathy. Indeed, the University, I understand, wrote to Goddard to stop her making these claims.

All very impressive stuff.

It would also appear that Goddard is well known to the ASA as someone complained about her last year for advertising what appeared to be a very dodgy multi-level marketing scheme with very misleading claims. Well worth reading about on Sceptical Letter Writer’s blog. The ASA found that her company, Magic Bullet TV Ltd, had misled with its advertising and made unsubstantiated claims. Note, that Jayney does not mention her own direct experience with the ASA in her email below.

Anyway, that leaked email in full…

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to you regarding an extremely important issue that directly affects all of us who are in any way involved in complementary medicine and natural healthcare.

As I am sure you will be aware, many practitioners of a variety of disciplines have received letters from the Advertising Standards Authority which notify them about complaints raised about their advertising (particularly on websites etc.).  This ‘anti-natural healthcare’ campaign is being run by a selection of well organised groups who are committed to destroying our profession and seem, to all intents and purposes, to have enlisted the help of the ASA to do this.

Over the last few weeks I have been contacted by countless practitioners who have felt that these letters have been extremely distressing.  This is of course, totally unacceptable.

I am meeting with the ASA this Friday to address this situation and various regulatory matters – and before I do so I need your help – as soon as possible please:

If you have received an ASA letter please could you tell me the following:

Please tell me in your own words whether (based upon the letter you received) you believed that

a)      the ASA is a legal body – with legal powers?

Please respond Yes or No

b)      whether you felt that the letter you received was in any way alarming or threatening?

Please let us have your comments

c)       whether you felt that you are being blackmailed in the letter you received by the threats of ‘sanctions’ and ‘bad publicity’

Please let us have your comments

(We will, as mentioned above, be raising other regulatory issues in the meeting too and we will report back on these in due course).

Please rest assured that any responses to my questions will be treated with the utmost confidence and your identity will not in any circumstances be divulged to the ASA – or any other body.

If you have not received a letter from the ASA yet – but you know someone who has please would you be so kind as to pass this email on to them.

Due to the highly organised nature of the wide ranging attacks on our profession it is now time for us all to work together to address these issues – the wellbeing of our clients depends upon our being able to offer our valuable treatments. If we are unable to advertise – then complementary medicine and natural healthcare is in grave danger.

I will let you know how the meeting goes.  I anticipate that this will probably be the first of several meetings – however, present at this first one will be representatives from The Complementary Medical Association (The CMA) including Dave Hawkins (formerly Planning Director of the world’s largest advertising agency and who has worked extensively with the Code of Advertising Practice Committee and the ASA throughout his career), Dr Robert Verkerk and Meleni Aldridge from the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) and myself.

Lastly – let me finish by thanking you in advance for your help in this matter – it is a crucial time for our profession.  (I’d also like to apologise if you’ve received this email more than once forwarded from other people – it simply means that friends and colleagues of yours are on the ball and believe that you may be able to help with this extremely important issue).

Warmest wishes

Jayney Goddard

President, The Complementary Medical Association

PS Time is of the essence – so please can you respond to me ASAP!

26 Comments on The Advertising Standards Authority Seeks to Destroy Complementary Medicine–Apparently

  1. “If we are unable to advertise – then complementary medicine and natural healthcare is in grave danger.”

    That’s quite extraordinary. Is she suggesting that an industry set up to heal people would stop doing so or be unable to if they weren’t allowed to advertise? In any case, there are plenty of ways homeopaths can advertise *within* the current guidelines.

    Am I misreading the use of the word “valuable” here? Surely she’s not saying it’s all about the monetary profit?

  2. I think what she means is that if they are only allowed to advertise truthfully, then they will be out of business. In other words, the entire industry is only sustainable as long as it’s allowed to lie.

    Last one out pleas turn the lights off.

    • “I think what she means is that if they are only allowed to advertise truthfully, then they will be out of business”

      In Denmark it’s not legal to claim homeopathic “medicine” cures this or that.
      But there are still shops that sell the shit.

      People “research” online to find the name of what they “need” and then go buy it in the shop.

  3. I got the same email – one of many I’ve had from her since I went to her poxy homeopathy conference. Most of them seem to be trying to get me to waste good money on some rubbish workshop or other.

    Re David Hawkins’ many awards – LMAO! JG as a talent for hyperbole and this seems to be in the same vein as the ‘top PhD scientists’ she promised at the conference.


    I think Jayney, like most quacks, understands the word ‘advertise’ to mean ‘say whatever we like including falsely claiming that our therapies can treat serious conditions’. But, yes, it would seem that she does think the success or failure of quackery depends on being allowed to lie about them.

  4. “the wellbeing of our clients depends upon our being able to offer our valuable treatments”
    She has this right, even if it’s in the opposite way to what she meant.

  5. Thanks to Andy for his original post highlighting the way in which CAM practitioners use affiliation to the Royal Society of Medicine to gain kudos and credibility. I happened upon his post when trying to find out why another CAM practitioner was a Fellow of this august society, and was horrified to find that Fellowship does not require any academic credentials or medical qualification – just payment of a subscription. No doubt the fact they have elected Prince Charles to an Honorary Fellowship is one reason they have such a positive attitude to superstition-based medicine. See and be amazed.

    • No, not “just payment of a subscription”.

      The RSM has five categories of membership:

      “Fellowship.: Available to those who hold a medical, dental, or vetinary qualification; or who have higher scientific qualifications – and those holding senior positions within the healthcare sector”.

      I can only assume that the RSM acknowledge homeopathy as being “within the healthcare sector”, not withstanding all the concerns expressed by Mr Quack.

      Richard Rawlins.
      Fellow, RSM.
      Honest guv. Trust me. I’m a doctor!

      • I would suggest their standards for checking that applicants meet any sort of standard are quite low.

      • As a Fellow, I have written to the RSM seeking clarification.

        I am also concerned that John McTimoney, who created his own form of chiropractic has had his name added to the “Wall of Honour” which purports to recognise those who have made contributions to medicine”.

  6. They ignore the laws of science so I suppose they feel entitled to ignore the law of the land. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  7. Jayney Goddard also made a terrible presentationat the 2008 “Scientific Research in Homeopathy” conference. A true believer in homeoprophylaxis for serious infectious diseases. Not the most careful worker either, she showed no interest in correcting a very misleading citation that placed a terrible pro-homeopathy study in the BMJ rather than the august Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy.

    It always strikes me as odd that the ANH is so keen on homeopathy as it’s a supplement industry lobby group. Philosophically the homeopaths should be at odds with it. Another case of all quacks together.

    • Philosophically the homeopaths should be at odds with it.

      Given their opposition to “allopathy” they should be opposed to any system involving balancing of opposing “humours”. So that’s ayurveda, TCM, Unani, acupuncture…

      I’ve seen it sugested that because osteopathy and chiropractic involve opposing imbalances (“subluxions2 or what have you) thay are also “allopathic”.

  8. It’s notoriously difficult to distinguish cynical deceiver from true believer when it comes to quacks. Even Jayney’s strange CV doesn’t proves she’s the former since even that may be a symptom of a strained relationship with the truth enabling fantastical beliefs. Still she has chosen to run courses for homeopaths which, along with selling pills, are the smart ways to make money out of quackery, so let’s assume for a moment that she is a deceiver not a believer.

    If she’s making money out of courses and conferences what she needs is a high profile and credibility with her community. So here, just by sending an e-mail, she paints herself as defender of the profession. It would be interesting to know if the meeting is real and if it ever happens. The whole thing may actually be an opportunity for her, later she can offer courses on how to bypass ASA guidelines and as ever this course need not be troubled by reality.

  9. Most of the quacks I’ve spoken to say that they generate the vat majority of their business via word of mouth.

    Complaining about the ASA is rather akin to a child complaining that his parents have told them off for stealing sweets from a shop.

  10. Why is it every time I read Andy Lewis’ blog I always end up asking the same questions? How do we know anything what he says about people and the things they do is true?

    For instance, Andy’s statement “A little digging revealed that the Mahendra Sanskrit University had been destroyed by Maoist rebels many years before,” implies that the university no longer exists. A quick search finds that it does. So what’s the point in saying that it was attacked by Moasist rebels, Andy? If her statement wasn’t true, then “a little digging” would have reealed that, and given your depseration to discredit Jaynie Goddard, doesn’t it seem odd that you wouldn’t just say that, that she had lied about her credentials?

    And why is it the one question that this “argument” is centered around is never addresses by skeptics of homeoapthy, namely, do homeopathic remedies have any demonstrable biological action. Could it be Andy dodges this question because its so easily demonstrated, and being such, would quickly end the “argument?”

    The bottom line is, homeopathy is a legal practice. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be writing columns like this one. All of this would have been settled long ago.

    You just don’t like it.

      • At least, as far as the ASA is concerned, which is the topic of conversation here. Estate agents and second hand car dealers are not allowed to make unsubstantiated claims in their advertising, no matter how sincerely they themselves believe them. Why should homoeopaths be any different?

    • Smoking used to be a legal practice in the work place, now it isn’t, it was banned because it was dangerous to people exposed to it in the course of their work.

      Homeopathy is antisocial and dangerous to those exposed to it. I’m not aware of any serious campaign to ban it at present and at present such a campaign would surly fail. However I would be careful of allowing “it’s not illegal” to be your final fall back argument.

    • While many readers of Quackometer are familiar with John Benneth, not everyone will be. So, for the uninitiated one of Benneth’s rhetorically tricks is to assert as fact that homeopathic remedies have been shown to have biological actions. He does not use clinical trial data to support this claim (maybe because the trial data show homeopathy is useless and he doesn’t want to get bogged down by that awkward fact), but a range of in vitro studies on the alleged “memory of water”.

      He has had it explained to him numerous times why the gross methodological failings of these studies mean they do not provide meaningful evidence, but he ignores the criticisms and carries on as if he had never heard them. In this, he is just like Dana Ullman except that DUllman’s preferred spam is a set of defective clinical trials, most notably that of Frass.

      Most hilariously of all, Benneth repeatedly punts a study by Rustum Roy,

      in which the authors managed to prepare their controls so badly that all they showed was differences between one stock of solvent and a different stock (at the most generous interpretation of their data).

      Of course, the question that Benneth has no answer for is how his magicked water would ever transmit its powers to the tablets that most consumers of homeopathy actually purchase, or, for extra laughs, how one little pill can power up a whole bottle (so-called ‘grafting’ of remedies).

      None of this would matter over much if the remedies actually worked in real patients. They don’t, so there’s no mechanism required!

    • The status of lay homeopathy in the UK is extremely interesting. Whilst under Common Law, anyone can pretend to be a homeopath or pretty much anything else except for being a member of one of the regulated health professions, homeopathic medicines are regulated.

      This poses all sorts of legal and ethical problems. The vast majority of homeopathic remedies in the UK are unlicensed medicines and regulation insists that the supply of unlicensed medicines should be tightly controlled and should only occur in very specific circumstances.

      Effectively only doctors and vets can practise homeopathy without constraint, but then again, they are subject to a level of professional oversight that does not exist for lay homeopaths.

      If existing laws and regulations were enforced, UK lay homeopathy would be severely curtailed. It would not, per se, be illegal, but reduced to a tiny rump with very limited abilities to supply clients with homeopathic remedies.

      Basically, there is a big questions about whether some of the things that lay homeopaths do are actually legal.

  11. Always a pleasure to welcome Benneth here and have him dazzle us with his scholarship.

    I am upset thought that he questions my integrity. I would like to remind us all of Benneth’s commitment to truth and reason…

    I am delighted to learn that Benneth has found that the Mahendra Sanskrit University actually exists? Would this be its web site?

    It returns “account suspended” for me.

    It does look like that it might have relocated and arisen from the ashes of its destruction as the Nepal Sanskrit University.

    However, access is difficult at the moment as all the doors are padlocked.

    I cannot find a web site for this establishment. Perhaps, Benneth can help out.

    In the meantime, I shall allow my readers to come to their own conclusions about what it means to be a Professor of such an institution.

  12. This Benneth guy seems a bit of a pillock.

    I wonder how Jayney’s meeting with the ASA went. She didn’t look very happy when she came out.

    Just kidding. I wasn’t hanging round outside. I look forward to reading all about it on this blog sometime.

  13. The ANH/CMA coalition have just released a statement, giving their side of the story of the meeting:

    The two groups representing CAM consider the ASA’s approach, in conjunction with that of the anti-CAM skeptic group, the Nightingale Collaboration, to be akin to a “witch-hunt” against CAM practitioners.

    The ANH-Intl and The CMA aim to encourage the ASA both to increase the transparency of its evaluation and adjudication methods, and to expand the type of evidence that can be used to substantiate specific claims. The two organisations urge CAM practitioners not to simply ‘roll over’ when challenged by the ASA, but to attempt to justify their claims with the best and broadest range of available evidence.

    My emphasis.

    They describe us as the “over zealous, CAM skeptic Nightingale

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