November 21st, 2006
More good news in the media today with the Medicines and Healthcare Regulation Authority (MHRA) ordering the recall of two of Gillian McKeith’s sex products.
The two ‘herbal cures’ ‘Fast Formula Horny’ (for men) and ‘Fast Formula Wild Pink’ (for women) have been withdrawn because they’ve been marketed and sold as plant-based products where in fact they contain well-known medicinal herbs. Manufacturing and distributing the products as a herbal cure is both misleading and dangerous since they technically are classed as medicines.
Only licensed medications can be advertised to the public, so McKeith has been breaking the law in promoting these products, particularly since the MHRA has warned “There is no evidence of the products’ efficacy for the medicinal purpose for which they were advertised…..The company may reapply for a medicine licence for these products but will have to prove they conform to standards in safety, quality and efficacy.”
This means if the products are to be sold in the future they should be fully trialled and tested – and compared with existing and placebo products. It’s worth noting that most herbal sex drugs on the market, whilst they may not breach MHRA guidelines, have still not been adequately trialled, tested or published in a recognised peer reviewed journal. Their effects at best are often placebo, but some can be harmful (as in this case) because they are improperly tested and sold.
It isn’t that McKeith wasn’t aware of the need for adequate testing and regulation. The MHRA stated: “As Dr McKeith’s organisation had already been made aware of the requirements of medicines legislation in previous years there was no reason for all the products not to be compliant with the law. It would have been a very simple matter for them to have sought our opinion.” One has to wonder why such basic ethical steps were not taken?
McKeith is no stranger to controversy with claims of a paid for PhD, lack of formal nutritional qualifications and concerns over health messages she gives. However this has not stopped Channel 4 television producing several ‘You are what you eat’ series featuring McKeith. Nor has it stopped publishers selling books with the same title, magazines including her as a columnist, or McKeith’s range of drinks, cereal bars and other products (all presented as ‘healthy eating’ options) available in most pharmacies, health stores and supermarkets.
Perhaps this might be the wake-up call the wider media needs to understand that someone who is prepared to flout ethical, research and clinical standards is either not qualified to give nutritional advice, or simply does not care what they are promoting. For years health staff have been complaining about the inclusion of McKeith in the media without action. Of course we can blame McKeith herself, but we should also now start holding more accountable media outlets who continue to present her as a qualified professional, when there are doubts over her qualifications, activities and abilities. Particularly given there are plenty of other highly qualified practitioners who could provide nutritional advice.Tweet