Complaints against Equine America (UK) Ltd have been partially upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
VetVits Ltd, who own EquiFlex, objected to two advertisements for Cortaflex that appeared in equestrian magazines.
In one of the advertisements Equine America (UK) Ltd said: “The following equine joint supplements have no objective clinical evidence of improving joint mobility – NAF Five Star Superflex, EquiFlex, PREMIERflex HA, ExtraFlex HA, STRIDE HA, My Joints, Athri Aid and New Market Joint Supplement.”
The advertisements continued to then detail objective research conducted upon their supplement, Cortaflex, with a link to the “outstanding results of the study”.
However the ASA found there to be “significant concerns about the robustness of the statistical analysis of the data … and there was a disparity between the data published” regarding this objective research.
Three claims were upheld:
- The research was found to have been conducted upon a formulation of the product not available in the UK.Equine America (UK) Ltd said that since 2002 they had added two new active ingredients to improve the products efficacy.The ASA decided that as the studies provided by Equine America (UK) Ltd concerned the effects of the substances in isolation, and not in conjunction with other active ingredients, that the advertisements were misleading.
- It was concluded by the ASA that the advertisements were misleading due to the claim that the there was “objective clinical evidence” in favour of Cortaflex.This was due to a small study group, (eight horses) short duration of the study, (two weeks) and a disparity between the data published in the Proceedings of the AAEP and the clinical paper on the website.Due to this they found that the trial upon which the claim was based not be sufficient enough to substantiate the advertisements by Equine America (UK) Ltd.
- VetVits Ltd had a claim upheld that the advertisements denigrated their company.Equine America (UK) Ltd claimed that the advertisements were “solely making a statement of admitted fact” however the ASA found that “the ads went beyond that.”This was due to the implication that EquiFlex was an inferior product compared to Cortaflex.Due to the ASA’s rejection of the Cortaflex study, details listed in the claims one and two, Equine America (UK) Ltd did not have objective clinical proof of its product either.
The advertisements claim that EquiFlex did not have clinical proof of its efficacy was challenged by VetVits, however the ASA did not find Equine America (UK) Ltd to be in breach.
The conclusion of this ruling is that the advertisements must not appear again in their current form.
The ASA also told Equine America (UK) Ltd to ensure “they held robust substantiation for future claims” and “to ensure they did not discredit or denigrate other products or marketers in future”.