SensaSlim and the IRI’s Borrowed Photographs

An update on the Dr Ken Harvey libel case. Plus the removal of photographs from the web page of the institute that is said to have done research supporting the product.

Much has happened regarding the libel case against Dr Ken Harvey since writing the last post on this topic.

On the 14th of June, Dr Ken Harvey’s legal people found there were problems with the original statement of claim put forward by SensaSlim’s legal people.  Harvey’s legal people requested the libel action be struck out.  However the NSW Supreme court allowed SensaSlim’s legal people to withdraw the statement of claim and lodge an amended one, they have until 1st of July to do so.

On the 16th of June the ACCC began investigating SensaSlim. On the 23rd of June the ACCC applied to the federal court to put a freeze on SensaSlim’s Australian assets, which was granted.

At the time of writing, Sensaslim is yet to point to any published peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support the claims made about the SensaSlim product.

Whilst the government body tasked with protecting Australian consumers from potentially ineffective medical products, the TGA, appears to be powerless to do anything and has become muddled in its responses to the media.

The Australian newspaper reported on the 25th of June:

A TGA spokeswoman says it welcomes the ACCC’s action. She says the TGA has worked closely with the commission on the SensaSlim case and has cancelled the firm’s marketing approvals.

That’s odd, just before posting this I checked the ARTG.  SensaSlim is still on the ARTG, which means it can be legally sold at retail outlets.  I also checked SensaSlim’s two main websites promoting sales in Australia. And

I haven’t seen any change to these sites since SensaSlim first came to my attention more than a month ago. The marketing of SensaSlim appears be completely unaffected by anything the TGA may have said or done.

The “borrowed” photographs

The SensaSlim story took a recent bizarre twist.  You may recall that Dr Capehorn wrote the so called “white paper” about the evidence behind the product.  You may also recall that Dr Capehorn wants nothing more to do with the product or the white paper.

However, at the time of writing, SensaSlim are still using the white paper as supporting evidence for the effectiveness of the product. One reference in that paper stands out as crucial.

“Strebel PB, et al. Institut de Recherche Intercontinental. Jan 2010. “

This simple reference should link an author to an institute and a published study that supports the claims about SensaSlim.  With a little searching, the website of the IRI can be found here and its bona fides checked by anyone. However there isn’t much by way of publications, people and verifiable associations to check.

The Age newspaper reported the following on the 22nd of June:

[The Institut de Recherche Intercontinental website] features photographs of people whom it claims are its executives – only they are not.

The Age found that the photographs were actually of medical practitioners at the St Paul Lung Clinic in Minnesota.  The Age approached SensaSlim about the apparent photographic discrepancy.  Around this time the photographs were removed from the IRI web site.

The page that previously showed the photographs now shows the following statement.

This page has been removed due to vandalism/hacking attempts on the page

The IRI IT people haven’t done a great job of removing the photographs from the site.  The photographs don’t show up on the page however they are still there if you check the HTML code that is downloaded when searching the page with any web browser.

(click full size)

Note, I’ve deliberately covered the face of the person who appears to be unrelated to the IRI.

Time for a quick review of the situation

There is currently on sale at many retail outlets across Australia an exciting new weight loss product claimed to be the “… most effective slimming solution in the world today”.

The person most critical of that and other SensaSlim claims is fighting a libel case because he complained to the appropriate government regulator. Backing up the evidence for the product’s effectiveness is a website that previously carried images of people from a completely unrelated institute in the US.


To change the subject a little there has been a vote for a new committee of the Vic Skeptics.  In exciting news there has been complete takeover by researchers from a Geneva based research institute.

(Click full size) Starting from the left by height, Dr Yayaythingthing, Dr Fakespraytan, Kermit the Doctor Frog, Dr Eyejustmakendisup, Dr Biebler, Dr Croc (and a few others, whatever..)


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