H&R Healthcare Ltd complained that a promotional leaflet for Drymax Extra issued by Aspen Medical breached clauses 3.4 and 3.6 of the SDMA Code of Practice in a number of ways. A complaint panel was convened to form an opinion on whether this was the case.
In reference to the specific points within the complaint the panel reached the following conclusions:
1. It was alleged a hanging comparison had been used.
There is a hanging comparison concerning superior absorbency and retention. The panel confirmed this was a breach of section 3.6 of the code, but were pleased that Aspen Medical had acknowledged this and had already taken remedial action.
2. A comparison was drawn against a previous non-current version of Sorbion Sachet-S.
The panel concluded they had been provided with insufficient information to support a claim that Aspen had made reference to an earlier and not current version of Sorbion Sachet-S. The information provided by Aspen suggested the samples used for testing had been procured in a normal commercial manner. Furthermore, Aspen requested from H&R Healthcare a sample of their current product with a view to repeating the test. This had not been provided. The panel were thus unable to conclude that a breach of the code of practice had occurred.
3. The use of improper test methodology was alleged.
A reference to the test methodology was given by Aspen in their promotional material, but it was not made clear that the test method employed was intended for use with incontinence products. Whilst the panel did not find this was a breach of the code, they recommend that Aspen should review this and fully reference the test method, including the name of the standard involved, as omitting the name of the test method has the potential to mislead.
4. It was suggested that the absorption capacity and cost effectiveness claims contravened the code of practice.
The information given in the two graphs on the promotional literature appears to progress logically from one to the other. The panel felt that the titles distinguished sufficiently between the information provided to allow a clinician to make a reasoned judgement, and thus were not considered as breaching the code. However, the information concerning cost effectiveness and price was considered incomplete and might confuse. All the products in the price box should have been included in the cost effectiveness box to allow clinicians to make a complete judgment. With regards to the size of the dressings used for testing (20x30cm), the panel felt it was a consistent comparison. As no evidence was provided that the size of the dressing influenced the cost effectiveness, the panel were unable to conclude there was a breach of the code of practice.
5. It was reported there were unsubstantiated claims and an inadequate response to enquiries was received.
Whilst the panel noted that Aspen responded to H&R Healthcare within the required 28 days, it was considered the information provided was inadequate. Consequently the panel agreed that a breach of clause 3.4 of the code of practice occurred.
In conclusion, it was found that the Aspen Healthcare advertising material was in breach of clauses 3.4 and 3.6 of the code of practice. All the decisions reached by the panel were unanimous.
Complaint adjudicated on 8 February 2012