ASA: Acupuncture's health claims misleading

ASA: Acupuncture's health claims misleading

An advertisement claiming the health benefits of acupuncture has been found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The authority found there wasn't enough evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture, even though the ACC spent $26 million on it last year.

But the Society for Science Based Healthcare says there's not enough evidence to prove it's worth it.

It recently laid a complained about advertising claims made by a Dunedin acupuncture clinic. Today the ASA upheld the complaint.

"If you want to make a claim that something has a health benefit you should be able to show that it's tested and shown to have this health benefit," says Society for Science Based Healthcare's Mark Hanna. "There should be justification for the claims that are being made, and for many of the claims being made that doesn't seem to be the case."

Acupuncture New Zealand says there's growing support for the practice.

"There's increasing amounts of scientific evidence coming from throughout the world backing the efficacy of acupuncture," says Paddy McBride. "Our profession are currently working with the Ministry of Health to bring Chinese medicine in under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act."

Last year ACC forked out more than $26 million on acupuncture treatments, and since 2003, tens of thousands have been spent on acupuncture for things like dental injuries and deafness.

Mr Hanna says ACC's own study has only found it supports shoulder and neck pain.

"Everything else that they've looked at has been not enough evidence, or inconsistent evidence or negative evidence – not enough to support paying for it to do that, although they do often pay for it."

But while ACC contributes to the cost of treatments, it doesn't make clinical decisions. That's down to medical professionals.

In a statement it said: "ACC relies on medical professionals to determine the best course of treatment to restore health."

Acupuncture New Zealand is working with the ASA on its advertising claims.

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