The protest outside the Advertising Standards Authority on Tuesday 25 June 2013 marked a significant step forward in the activity of H:MC21.
Not only was it our first protest outside a private organisation attacking homeopathy and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), but it was our first protest aimed at informing the public directly about the issue.
Over 800 leaflets explaining our reasons for being there were taken by people passing by, with many stopping to talk about the issues. It is clear that the ASA does not have unqualified public support, but is viewed with the same scepticism as the rest of the advertising industry. As a private company this regulator is not immune to public criticism.
The ASA’s handling of H:MC21’s case has serious implications for the general public, even those who only use orthodox medicine. The ASA has endorsed unscientific and propagandist arguments which threaten the safety of all those who use conventional drugs.
This case has also acted as a catalyst to bring together homeopaths and other CAM practitioners in united action. Our protest, as always, involved people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, including homeopaths and patients, but on this occasion it specifically included other CAM practitioners and patients. See Freedom4Health.
We are discovering that there are many other cases where the ASA has employed the same tactics exposed in our case, but in each case people thought that they could only act alone. By publicly challenging the ASA we have given a lead for a concerted response.
Both at the lobby of Parliament and in other contacts with MPs, supporters are finding that MPs are willing to look into the issue. One MP’s advisor (who had medical training) was particularly shocked at the way the ASA’s position flies in the face of scientific and medical knowledge, and recognised the serious threat it poses to patient safety.
It is early days, but H:MC21 is forging links with others who are fighting the same sort of attacks as homeopaths have been facing. This protest was the first step towards a much broader unity of practitioners and patients who have the will – and the right – to stand up themselves for their choice of healthcare.
H:MC21 has plans to take this campaign forwards in the autumn, and we urge supporters to use the summer to make as many people as possible aware of the issues. This adjudication by the ASA is not the end of the issue but only the beginning!
Correspondence concerning the ASA Ltd's apparent misrepresentation of Swiss researchers can be found on the Freedom4Health website.