Miracle Mineral Website
Miracle Mineral Website
DATE OF MEETING
11 September 2012
The website advertisement for Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) contained various therapeutic claims about why MMS was better than conventional drugs for a wide variety of illnesses from cancer to heart disease. It also contained various statements about HIV and AIDS and recommended viewers to look at two documentaries called "The AIDS Blunder" and "House of Numbers.
The Complainant said there was no scientific evidence to support any of the claims made by the Advertiser on the website which, in the Complainant's view, also contained misinformation about conventional medicine. The Complainant also said the claims about what diseases MMS would cure that appeared on the Google search page were without scientific support.
As a preliminary matter, the Complaints Board ruled the results returned from a generic Google search was not an advertisement and, as such, it had no jurisdiction to consider this component of the Complaint.
The Complaints Board then noted where the Advertiser had amended the specific statements that were at the centre of the complaint as well as the addition of a disclaimer. However, the Complaints Board said those changes were not enough to modify the overall tone of the website which it said amounted to an implicit endorsement of the therapeutic effect of MMS which the Advertiser was unable to substantiate. The Complaints Board ruled to Uphold the Complaint.
[Advertisement to be removed]
Please note this headnote does not form part of the Decision.
COMPLAINTS BOARD DECISION
Procedural Note: The Complaints Board first considered this complaint at its meeting on 14 August 2012. After carefully considering the information received from all parties, it decided to adjourn the complaint as the Advertiser indicated a number of changes had been made to the website in response to the complaint. The complaint, along with the amended website, was then considered by the Complaints Board at its meeting on 11 September 2012.
The Complaints Board carefully read all correspondence in relation to the complaint, and viewed a copy of the website advertisement. It noted that the Complainant specifically believed the advertisement was misleading and made claims that were scientifically implausible and unable to be substantiated.
The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the advertisement with reference to Principles 2 and 3 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code. This required the Complaints Board to consider whether the advertisement was truthful and balanced, whether the claims were valid and had been substantiated and whether the advertisement observed a high standard of social responsibility.
As a preliminary matter, the Complaints Board noted the Complainant's concern about the information that appeared in the Google search result. The Complaints Board referred to a previous Chairman's Ruling (08/055) about the results from a search engine. It stated, in part:
"The Chairman noted the issue raised by C. Turner concerning the website content. He said, however, that the material subject to complaint was in fact a directory listing from a website search engine, and thereby the items presented were not advertisements. As such, they did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Complaints Board and the advertising codes did not apply."
The Complaints Board said the above Ruling was directly applicable to the component of the complaint before it and ruled that the results from the website search engine was not an advertisement. Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled it had no jurisdiction to consider this component of the Complaint.
The Complaints Board then noted where the Advertiser said that the information presented on the website "is for educational purposes only" however, it had agreed to amend the specific statements that were mentioned by the Complainant which were "MMS can have the tendency to destroy and loosen, pathogens and diseased material, which the body must then eliminate" and "HIV and AIDS are an example of diseases that many experts are now saying were 'created'; and that they are not what most people think they are."
After reviewing the updated website, the Complaints Board noted that the pages containing the statements at the centre of the complaint had been amended and, together with the reference to the documentaries, no longer appeared on the site. It also noted the addition of a disclaimer that stated, in part:
Warning: Statements expressed on this website have not been evaluated by Medsafe. Any and all information and/or statements found within this site are for educational purposes only and are NOT intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent disease or replace the advice of a licensed healthcare practitioner."
While it acknowledged the changes made by the Advertiser in response to the complaint, the Complaints Board said the amendments were not enough to moderate the overall tone of the website which it said amounted to an implicit endorsement of the therapeutic effect of MMS which the Advertiser had not substantiated.
The Complaints Board noted the language in the disclaimer and the intent that the website be educational. However, in the Complaints Board's view, it was promoting a product and making claims about what the product could do.
Taking all of the above into account, the Complaints Board said that the advertisement was misleading to the consumer and in breach of Principle 2 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code. It further said that given the nature of the product and the health benefits that it claimed, the Advertiser had not observed a high standard of social responsibility required of advertisements of this type and therefore, the advertisement was also in breach of Principle 3 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code.
Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.
DESCRIPTION OF ADVERTISEMENT
The website advertisement for Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS) was headed
The name says it all"
The advertisement contained various therapeutic claims about why MMS was better than conventional drugs for a wide variety of illnesses from cancer to heart disease. It also contained various statements about HIV and AIDS and recommended viewers to look at two documentaries e called "The AIDS Blunder" and "House of Numbers
COMPLAINT FROM M. EDMONDS
In the google search for this product the search page (see attached screenshot) lists this website with the blurb "Miracle Mineral Supplement aids the immune system in curing cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, leukemia, asthma, flu, cold, arthritis." There is absolutely no evidence to support this statement. This statement is therefore misleading, and by listing this series of diseases for which other treatments are limited they are potentially offering false hope to sufferers of these diseases, and are profiting from those who may be desperate for treatment.
On another page of this website (http://www.miraclemineral.co.nz/doubleblind.html) the authors claim that "MMS can have the tendency to destroy and loosen, pathogens and diseased material, which the body must then eliminate" There is no scientific evidence to support that MMS has this effect in the body.
On this same page they state that "HIV and AIDS are an example of diseases that many experts are now saying were 'created'; and that they are not what most people think they are."
There is no scientific evidence to support this contention, indeed, promoting such ideas is dangerous in that they can encourage those with HIV to stop taking life saving medication.
As "evidence" the authors of this website state "Two documentaries well worth watching on this topic are titled 'The AIDS Blunder' (28 minutes), and 'House of Numbers' (88 minutes)."
These websites have been widely condemned in the scientific and medical communities as dangerous AIDS denialism propaganda. To use such "evidence" to sell what are essentially solutions of bleach, strikes me as dangerous and either scientifically ignorant or opportunistic.
This web page goes on to state various misinformation about conventional medicines, presumably in an attempt to confuse the reader, and make the MMS product seem to be a viable treatment. And while they go to great pains to state that the "Information presented on this website is for educational purposes only, and is NOT intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent disease or replace the advice of a licensed Healthcare practitioner." the content of the page AND the information stated when searching for the webpage "Miracle Mineral Supplement aids the immune system in curing cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, leukemia, asthma, flu, cold, arthritis." reveal the true purpose of this website.
Therapeutic Products Advertising Code
Principle 2 - Advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading. Claims must be valid and have been substantiated.
Principle 3 - Advertisements must observe a high standard of social responsibility.
RESPONSE FROM ADVERTISER, MIRACLE MINERAL
Thank you for your email inviting Miracle Mineral to comment on the complaint you received from M. Edmonds.
Miracle Mineral's comments regarding this complaint are as follows:
Claim 1: - Google search [page 3]
Miracle Mineral suggests that you need to approach Google should you have any concerns with Google's search results.
Claim 2: - MMS [page 4]
Miracle Mineral agrees that the wording of this statement requires some clarification, so Miracle Mineral has amended the statement accordingly.
Claim 3: - Documentaries [page 5]
- The information presented on the Miracle Mineral website is for educational purposes only and the documentaries are certainly not promoting or advertising any products whatsoever.
Claim 4: - Information presented contradicts [pages 6 to 13]
- The information presented on the Miracle Mineral website is for educational purposes only. There is no contradiction.
Pages 15 to 18: - This decision was addressed in previous correspondence dated 15 May 2012.
Pages 19 to 21: - Not applicable.
In reviewing this complaint at your board meeting, please do not refer to the original website scans from the complainant, as portions of the Miracle Mineral website shown are outdated and are not what currently appears on the Miracle Mineral website.
FURTHER RESPONSE FROM THE ADVERTISER
The educational information on the Miracle Mineral website is constantly being improved and being updated as new information comes to light.
The best way to view the most up to date information, is to go to the page concerned and see what is currently on that page. Sorry we can't be of more assistance.
RESPONSE FROM MEDIA, GOOGLE
Thank you for your letter dated July 26, 2012 addressed to Google Australia Pty Ltd in relation to miraclemineral.co.nz content appearing on a Google search results page.
We confirm that the disputed content in question is not an ad, but rather it is the first organic search result on the Google search page. Accordingly, this content is being shown on the results page as the Google Search engine is an index that crawls the internet and automatically displays organic search results that reflect what is already on the internet.
As the content doesn't relate to an ad appearing on Google pages, we don't have any comments to provide in relation to the complaint. I note from your letter that you have contacted Miracle Mineral Trust so we trust that they will be able to provide you with any comments on ads appearing elsewhere.