Scam School shows how EKEN sells their PowerBand

Award-winning magician Brian Brushwood over at ScamSchool shows how the scam works, and uses a “Placebo Band” to demonstrate this exact scam:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpLt0oUWfOk

So, I’m still disappointed in the current outcome of the EKEN Complaint made earlier to the TGA, and subsequently to the ACCC. I am hoping for a situation where EKEN are forced to acknowledge their bullshit marketing techniques.

ACCC Responds to EKEN Complaint

I’m planning on calling the ACCC on Monday morning to bring the focus towards EKEN’s use of “Applied Kinesiology” to sell their goods.

After receiving the letter I took a look at EKEN’s website, which was recently updated to promote Billy Slaters’ addition to their “Hall of Shame”.

EKEN words their Technology page to make it appear as if they are talking about the properties of the product itself; it’s a poor excuse for what they ARE selling, compared to what they mislead people to believe they are purchasing. The website contains an image with little context and can lead people to the believe that this is how to “test” the effects of the PowerBand.

It explicitly depicts that the EKEN Powerband can, and will affect a persons’ balance through a comparison.

"Balance" with and without the EKEN Powerband

In the second image, the person performing the test will push directly down towards the ground, resulting in the centre of gravity being shifted away from the body, making it harder to withstand pressure applied to the arm.

In the third image, the person performing the test pushes down, but towards the lifted foot. This slight change results in the centre of gravity being shifted TOWARDS the body, thus making it EASIER to withstand pressured applied to the arm.

To me, it seems as though if you’re the tester, you HAVE to be actively scamming the subject. Why does it have to be a conscious act of deception? Because the outcome of the “test” is determined by a deliberate act by the tester; I find it hard to believe anyone could not do this test and “accidentally” come out with negative results without the PowerBand and positive results with the PowerBand every time.

Again, the short of it is that Applied Kinesiology (another pseudo-science) is being re-appropriated for the testing of a person’s balance once wearing the product.

EKEN have videos of this scam being pulled on Athletes, who lap up this “technology” and are astounded by it. EKEN outright exploits these as “testimonials” to their PowerBand’s efficacy.

Therapeutic Merry-Go-Round

Last week the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) knocked back my submission to them about the EKEN PowerBand. (See: http://reportarort.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/submitted-eken-powerband/)

“Thank you for your continued interest in this matter.

We did refer the matter to the TGA (as I advised you previously). The power bands have been assessed by the TGA not to be therapeutic goods. Unless products such as these make claims for therapeutic use, they are not considered by the Complaints Resolution Panel to be within its jurisdiction. For this reason, this complaint will be referred to the ACCC. I will ask the ACCC to keep you informed.”

Having had waited a week with no response so far, I looked in to why PowerBalance was a different story.

It was, and wasn’t.

The TGA said the same thing to Robert Smallwood, who claimed to have submitted a complaint to them about PowerBalance: “Not a therapeutic device”.

Robert wrote to the TGA as part of their Transparency Review: http://www.tga.gov.au/pdf/consult/tga-transparency-review-submission-1012-robert-smallwood.pdf

Robert makes a point that is well-known, especially to those selling bogus products: The TGA fails to enforce its findings against everyone, including “complimentary” and “alternative” practitioners.

I suspect it may be the lack of information on EKEN’s website; PowerBalance were quite specific in their website, but EKEN hides behind the ignorance of its’ customers – preferring to allow them to guess what they do and how they work, rather than to explicitly explain the mechanism.

Subsequently, Dr. Ken Harvey was able to compel the TGA to investigate the claims by PowerBalance, and as a result the complaint was found generally found to be justified.

It was those same justified complaints by Ken Harvey that formed the basis for my own complaint to the TGA about EKEN’s PowerBand. Same claims of Flexibility, Endurance, Balance, and Strength – all bullshit.

So, it’s intriguing to know why the TGA followed through against PowerBalance, but is seemingly trying to keep away from prosecuting EKEN for their therapeutic claims.

So, since I’m waiting for a response from the ACCC, I might take a look at Phiten Australia till then.

 

By the way — PlaceboBand. Cheaper, and does what it says.
You can go here to buy one for only $2.00 + P&H

 

SkepticBros PlaceboBand

SkepticBros PlaceboBand

What’s the problem, TGA?

Earlier this week I submitted a complaint about the EKEN PowerBand, a product that is reported to give its users increased Endurance, Balance, Strength, and Flexibility.

To my surprise, I got a reply from the TGACRP that essentially meant that they had no control over them – because the product was not on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Oddly enough, they were able to take action against PowerBalance late last year.
So, I responded with some clarification of what was in my complaint (as it appeared the referenced legislation was not investigated sufficiently).

Thank you for your response.

I refer to your E-Mail response to my complaint about the EKEN PowerBand, and the finding that because the product is not on the ARTG it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the CRP.

I refer back to the legislation specified within the complaint, Section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act that prohibits the publications of advertisements for therapeutic goods that are not included in the register.

Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 – Sect 42DL
(1) A person must not publish or broadcast an advertisement about therapeutic goods:
(g) that are not entered in the Register; or

Therefore, according to the Therapeutic Goods Act, does indeed fall within the jurisdiction of the TGACRP.

If you feel I am incorrect in my interpretation of the 42DL(1)(g), please advise on what grounds the TGACRP acknowledged the legitimacy of the complaint about PowerBalance (a similar product in design, claimed mechanism, and claimed benefit) for my reference.

For clear precedence of this legislation in practice, I refer to the recent findings of the TGACRP:
http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=13&special=complaint_single&complaintID=1650

32. Section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act prohibits the publication of advertisements for therapeutic goods that are not included in the Register. The advertiser acknowledged that the wrist band product is not included in the Register and the Panel was of the view that the product was promoted for therapeutic use. The advertisements therefore breached section 42DL(1)(g) of the Act and the Panel found this aspect of the complaint justified.

Please advise me on the outcome of any further inquiry you may make.

Sincerely,

Bayani Mills

So, hopefully this time we’ll make some headway on having this product removed.

I eagerly await.

PulsePharmacy Follow-up

While admittedly quite late, I finally got around to writing up and sending off my response to the reply from PulsePharmacy’s Senior Buyer regarding Eken PowerBands, and packaged it up along with other nonsense products they are selling through a recent news article featuring CHOICE

My initial E-Mail sent to PulsePharmacy, and their reply can be found here.

Thanks for your response regarding Pulse Pharmacy’s continued support for Eken PowerBands.

Eken PowerBands are not TGA R (Registered), rather they are TGA L (Listed) and as such Eken does not need to meet any kind of Standard to be listed by the TGA that would lend ANY kind of credence to their product — Unfortunately, they must only *claim* they have evidence. There is NO requirement to present the evidence to scrutiny by the TGA.

Interesting though that you said they meet the TGA requirements; perhaps they have supplied you with the scientific evidence they will provide to the TGA when they are investigated?

There is no good supporting evidence for the claimed mechanism of Eken’s PowerBands, and the continued sale of them, as is endorsed by Pulse Pharmacy, poses serious questions regarding Pulse Pharmacy’s ethical commitment to it’s consumers; even more so when some of the “tests” used in videos to support their claims require deliberate fraud to occur.

Refer: http://revision3.com/scamschool/placebobands

Surely, you understand that as you operate under the prestige of the title “Pharmacy”, consumers — and more to the point, the sick, look to Pharmacies for evidence based treatments for whatever their ailement may be.

To say this is a once-off lapse in product research would be disingenuous, as in the same store there were magnetic bracelets being sold as “Wellness Bracelets” — again, no evidence to support the implication that the bracelet would encourage this vague “Wellness”. But, for consumers, perhaps those that are ignorant, gullible, or desperate; they will buy those products in the sincere belief that their lives may be improved.

Perhaps you’ve seen the recent article:

Pharmacies selling ‘quack’ health products, CHOICE investigation reveals
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/pharmacies-selling-quack-health-products-choice-investigation-reveals/story-e6frfku0-1226018381502#ixzz1GQRnn4Hb

I strongly encourage Pulse Pharmacy to discontinue the sale of, and distance itself from the advocacy of Eken’s PowerBands and fraudulent claims. Pharmacies should get back to being places that only sell evidenced-based medicine; not a gift shop selling people “what they want to buy”.

I would suggest that a serious look your entire range of products would be prudent; perhaps it would provide shelf-space for actual health products and may prevent legal action under the newly released Australian Consumer Laws. (ACL).

Regards,
Bayani Mills

Pulse Pharmacy Replies re: Eken PowerBands

In reply to a recent E-Mail, Pulse Pharmacy (Australia) got back to me the other day with the following:

Hi Bayani

We are very aware of the bad press surrounding the Powerbalance bands and have certainly been monitoring the situation closely. We have a close relationship with Eken powerbands and are aware they have also been monitored closely by the ACCC but have been assured that their product is not breaching any standards. They have also met all TGA requirements.

We appreciate your feedback and we will continue to monitor this category closely.

Pulse Pharmacy, in addition to selling EKEN PowerBands within their stores, sells these Bands via their website. (http://www.pulsepharmacy.com.au/Product/Eken-Powerband-Blue–and–White-Extra-Small.aspx)

The 4 nFIT holograms result in a higher potency product which the wearer can instantly recognise.
•    Strength
•    Balance
•    Flexibility
•    Endurance
Wearers have reported increased core strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. See Testimonials for some great reports!

EKEN’s website (http://www.ekenpowerbands.com.au/specials/) quotes similar “hologram technology” to the recently reprimanded PowerBalance, stating:

nFIT (nano Frequency Infusion Technology) is our proprietary system for programming the EKEN holograms. This method ensures that each hologram receives a highly concentrated dose of the frequencies required to produce the highest quality power band on the market.

Personally, I’m really disappointed in the reply from Pulse Pharmacy; it’s a laissez-faire response to a situation where Pulse Pharmacy should be active in ensuring their products supply their consumers with effective treatments; and as a Senior Buyer – this is where I think their focus should be.

Pulse Pharmacy is seemingly more like a retail outlet with a licence to prescribe evidence-based medicines. I’m not even sure if their spin on “bad press” regarding PowerBalance is out of arrogance or ignorance.

Pulse Pharmacy stated that because they’ve been “assured” Ekan are not breaking ACCC standards, this makes it ethically OK to do so. Pulse Pharmacy noted that Eken met all the TGA requirements, which doesn’t say much at all. Listed Products aren’t required to provide evidence; just state that they have some in their possession.

PowerBalance made the same claim too, until the TGA withdrew representation after investigating due to complaints. (http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=13&special=complaint_single&complaintID=1650)

I guess I’ll have to write up a response. In the mean time, I encourage you to do the same thing too!

Update: In response to a recent comment, I will include this link to another page that describes the EKEN Powerband Scam.

An Open Letter to Pulse Pharmacy

To Pulse Pharmacy,

While in one of your stores, specifically the Brookvale store at Warringah Mall, I noticed a display featuring the EKAN Power Band on your Service Desk.

Perhaps it has slipped by you, but recently the ACCC ordered PowerBalance, a Brand name offering the same “technology” as EKAN, to cease selling their product in Australia after Power Balance admitted that it has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of s. 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. – http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/964065

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel went on to warn consumers of  “***SIMILAR*** products on the market that make unsubstantiated claims, when they may be no more beneficial than a rubber band,” You can hear the comments made by the ACCC Chairman at http://bit.ly/hitQLR

EKAN states clearly on their website regarding their hologram “technology”:
“Each (EKAN) Power band is made of high-grade silicone and embedded with 4 nFIT holograms.”

Holograms? Yes, holograms. EKAN claim they give their Holograms a:
“highly concentrated dose of frequencies” —

Not withstanding the fact EKAN have misused the term “frequencies”, EKAN provide no scientific evidence to support its claims – At all. The public expects, and deserves it’s pharmacies to provide only science-based medicine. Placebo is not an alternative to actual efficacious, medical treatment; and Pulse Pharmacy shouldn’t be in the business of knowingly misleading it’s customers.

To also sell it straight from your website is disgusting and immoral.
http://www.pulsepharmacy.com.au/Product/Eken-Powerband-Black–and–White-Extra-Small.aspx

I hope you will reconsider your decision to sell this sham product, having now been informed of this, to do nothing would be making Pulse Pharmacy complicit in the scamming of your customers.

Regards,

Bayani Mills