In part the decision says:
In reaching this conclusion, the Panel noted that the claims made in the advertisements were extraordinary to such a degree that no reasonable retailer could publish them on the basis of assurances from the product sponsor, without requesting evidence that such claims could lawfully be made about the product.
The TGA are asking for the: Withdrawal of representations, Withdrawal of advertisement and the Publication of a retraction.
To re-cap; Power Balance wrist bands are coloured silicone rings with two small plastic holograms glued on. The popular silicone bands sell for about $60 (Aus). A pendant version of the Power Balance sells for about $90 (Aus). The promoters of Power Balance claim the bands somehow, magically, improve your strength and balance. The claims are usually couched in more pseudo scientific terms like:
“…balance, promoting a free exchange of positive and negative ions and align your body’s energy pathways….”
An almost identical product, which I would argue is equally effective (i.e. completely ineffective beyond the placebo effect), is the Placebo Band, which sells for just $2.
Power Balance in Australia has been asked by the TGA to put the following retraction on web sites advertising Power Balance wrist bands:
Will Power Balance publish the retraction? Or, once again, will a company ignore the TGA ruling (as many do). We’ll wait with interest. The Federal Government has come under criticism for giving the TGA the power to investigate shonky medical products and to warn the public, without the authority to fine or force the withdrawal of products. The TGA has been particularly reluctant to act where a product is considered to have a low risk of causing harm to the user.
As a background to this, readers may be interested in the Vic Skeptics position paper on reforming the TGA; which can be found here. Our submission on the Position Paper on the Promotion of Therapeutic Goods.
The full TGA decision on Power Balance can be read here:
And will soon be posted on the TGA website here.The complainant in this case was Dr Ken Harvey.
Vic Skeptics are in awe of his tenacity in attempting to hold purveyors of valueless therapeutic goods to account – sensational work, Dr Harvey!
- that the benefits claimed for the product were “biologically implausible”
- that the advertised product fell within the definition of “therapeutic goods” found within the Act, and its advertising therefore breached section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act.
- that the advertisements breached sections 4(1)(a), 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), and 4(2)(c) of the Code because of the benefits claimed for the product.
The TGA also drew attention to some of the more ludicrous claims of the promoters of Power Balance bands:
“….everyone’s body is essentially a complex set of electro-chemical processes, a series of organic chemicals generating electro-magnetic energy….”
“…..you can restore balance & harmonic equilibrium…with a new ‘switch’.”
“Power Balance, after years of research and development, has produced a system to safely restore and optimise the electro-magnetic balance within the human body…”
“RESULTS ARE ALMOST IMMEDIATE… & TRULY PHENOMENAL”
Recently the promoters of Power Balance were called out by consumer magazine Choice, who awarded them a Shonky Award. Choice gave a beautiful description of Power Balance during the ceremony, “stronger, bendier, balanceder, dumber”. Choice actually ran a series of double-blind tests to detect any improvement in a person’s balance whilst wearing the band – none was found.