SensaSlim Backdown

Dr Ken Harvey at Skeptics of Vic

Dr Ken Harvey

The libel case brought by SensaSlim against Dr Ken Harvey is almost over, with SensaSlim eventually backing down.  The only remaining issue is one of costs.

Dr Ken Harvey says:

Subsequent to the ACCC freezing SensaSlim’s Australian bank account, their lawyers (Kennedys) have withdrawn from the case; an external administrator / liquidator was appointed to take over the company on 30/06/2011; a revised statement of claim was not submitted by the final date allowed by the court (July 1, 2011) and my lawyers will now apply to have the case finally stuck out (and costs awarded) at the next sitting of the defamation list judge on July 11, 2011.

However, this is likely to be a pyrrhic victory as it is very doubtful if any money from the liquidator will be available to pay the costs awarded!

The case has highlighted some fundamental flaws in Australian regulation concerning complementary medicines and the promotion of therapeutic goods which have been the subject of many submissions to recent government enquires. Hopefully, some reforms will emerge.



In further news, the SensaSlim case has made news in the UK.  Dr Capehorn gives his thoughts as to what happened, here.

Dr Ken Harvey

Dr Ken can now take the gag off.

16 Responses to SensaSlim Backdown

  1. Matt says:

    This is fantastic news!
    Although it’s a shame Ken was allowed to go through the ignominy of being sued simply for exercising his right to complain to a government authority.
    Hopefully we’ll see some reform in this area very soon.

  2. Andy says:

    This page (near bottom) is a little less optimistic about the immediate future. Hope Ken gets through this in good enough shape to continue his excellent work.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we had a government body properly armed to deal with pseudo-medical nonsense?

  3. Peter says:

    Poor Ken, It is a shame that you never talk about Sensaslim has a ARTG Certificate no AUST L176003 or there are many Australians have been using it with good results. Yes I will be fair there maybe problems with the advertising but that is telling people both sides but Ken why are you not interested in talking to people that know Sensaslim works for them. Sorry that would be telling both sides

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for your comment Peter. I’m sure Ken is aware of Sensaslim’s AUST L listing and the fact that some people have claimed it works for them.

      However, these facts are not relevant to this case because:

      (1) An “AUST L” designation does not mean the product has been proven to work. It merely means it is allowed to be sold in pharmacies, along with homeopathic placebo tablets and magnetic bracelets.

      (2) An individual’s claim that a product “works for them” is not good evidence. There are any number of quack products available in the market (from shining light on your feet while you’re sleeping to swallowing industrial strength bleach) for which people will happily claim it “works for them”.

      (3) This case was about investigating claims made by Sensaslim that were not backed up by evidence, and have now in fact been shown to be false. For you to downplay it as mere “problems with the advertising” is extraordinary.

      Besides, if anecdotal evidence from users is enough to show that a product works, why did the Sensaslim owners feel the need to provide fake credentials from a fictional institute?

      • Peter says:

        It makes me wonder about your statement.
        “However, these facts are not relevant to this case because:”

        I would have thought it is all that matters. Does Sensaslim work or not. I have sat next to a person that has lost 8 kg from Jan to March and now sprays once a day to maintain her weight. But maybe Skeptics don’t count real Australian as people. I have no problems with Mr Harvey complaining about the advertising but he should be fair and we should be after the truth.

    • keng2 says:

      Both sides of the story? Have you missed the point that this only became a newsworthy item when SensaSlim attempted to gag legitimate complaints against them?
      In fact the TGA, the body through which SensaSlim took out their ARTG certificate found a January 2001 complaint against the product was justified. That wasn’t Dr Ken Harvey’s complaint. He made his complaint much later, and the fact that SensaSlim sued him prompted the TGA to remove notice of their earlier adverse finding while the legal issues proceeded. That left SensaSlim free to tell their side of the story in their advertising without anyone being able to “give the other side”.

  4. Matt says:

    Peter, I refer you to my point (2) above.

    Apart from Sensaslim’s deceptive activities (which are, admittedly, the real issue) the question is … what is considered a reasonable standard of evidence for a therapeutic product?

    You claim that anecdotes from users of the product are good evidence. I don’t agree. And apart from this one particular product, I suspect you don’t actually agree either.

    If you *genuinely* thought that, you’d be drinking bleach and wearing a Power Balance bracelet along with all the other people who claim these things “work for them”.

  5. Peter says:

    What I do think is that I am responsable for my choices, I am sick of people telling me what is good for me. I do agree that andvertising is a problem. But this is so simple to solve. The other two examples don’t have TGA approvel. The approval is based on ingredients not on advertising. I am not giving you anecdotes I am giving you fact but because you don’t believe me you continue to go on your current path. I thought Skeptics worked on facts but again I guess it is only when it suits your side.

    • Matt says:

      As I’m sure you’re aware Peter, TGA listing is only based on *safety* of ingredients, not efficacy of ingredients.

      So just because the TGA lists a product, it doesn’t mean the product does what is claimed.

      And why are you saying I don’t believe you? Of course I believe you.

      I believe people have said SensaSlim works for them. That’s obviously a fact. It’s also just an anecdote.

      And anecdotes are not good evidence.

      A double-blinded placebo-controlled trial is good evidence.

      If Sensaslim actually worked as is claimed, then the makers should be able to knock out a good study and get it published very easily. So why haven’t they done that?

    • myname says:

      Peter, do you have interests with that rubbish product that can’t even prove its claims? I think you are, given that you link to their website.

      If you have interests with them and you don’t publicly announce them, I think that’s an immoral practice. Also immoral is using the judicial system to gag the voice of reason.

      So you want to choose to use a placebo product? Good on you, pal, I know people that drink piss and will swear on its health benefits. You believe in what you wish and use whatever placebo product you want to use. I want false marketers to be known as such, so when I make my own choices they are based on science and not marketing interests.

  6. Peter says:

    I agree they should do a study but as I have seen it work first hand I don’t need a study. Maybe if you have a slightly over weight Skeptic they could try it and then you would have proof it did not work. Some people try and resolve issues and some don’t.

    • Terry Kelly says:

      Peter, you don’t seem to understand the “scientific method”. The studies are more important than to see it “work first hand”. What if someone has ssn it NOT work at first hand? This is how science works. It needs big numbers and you have to reduce variables and narrow down the range of possible explanations. In any case, the problem with Sensa Slim is that they themselves claimed that there had been a very large study, of 11,000 people, as evidence that it worked and it looks like this 11,000 people study may not have existed.

    • Andy says:

      Last week I washed my car in the morning and it rained in the afternoon. This always happens, believe me. Does this mean I control the weather?

      • Peter says:

        Andy your last comment just proves to me that you must be a bit of a nut case, Unlike Terry I understand the issues raised but you make very little sense. I know about the trials and that is why I want to do our own in Australia but Mr Harvey will not contact me so we can do them together. And because I have seen people using Sensaslim and it working for them is the only reason to hold our own trials. If it hadn’t worked for those people I would not bother pushing. So Andy if you want to have another crack come up with something that makes some sense.

  7. malvickers says:

    Hi Peter,
    I can see Andy’s point. He’s making a point about correlation and causation, its common fallacious thinking to assume that where events correlate, the cause can be positively identified. To spell it out in relation to SensaSlim, I think he’s saying that just because a few people reported losing weight to you, anecdotally, that doesn’t mean the product works.

    As a hypothetical example, suppose a large group of 100 people took weight loss product X and there were 10 that reported a weight loss to you. The 90 that didn’t lose weight said nothing. You might think the product works. And why wouldn’t you? You only heard about the positive results. Further, as there was no control, you don’t know if those 10 in 100 wouldn’t have lost weight anyway.

    In relation to trials of SensaSlim itself, would you say it is or isn’t ethical for scientifically rigorous, published trails to be done before the product was sold in pharmacies? Claims where made that such trails had been done in advertising material.

    I think it’s a bit much for you to expect that Dr Harvey would be interested in conducting trials of the product. After all, the company did try to sue him for libel.

    You say “I know about the trials”. Could you please, in a reply, supply a web link to the published information. If you have a copy, please place it in on-line storage so that I and anyone else can have access to it.

    I notice the link from your name is to a SensaSlim promotional site. Advertised there is a promotional “trail” with a link to “become a retailer”. Why do you use that link, do you have a commercial interest in the product?

    The “nut case” comment is a straight ad hominum attack, I think quite unfair and unreasonable.

  8. Saul Geffen says:

    Peter do you have a financial interest in this rubbish product?

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