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Lyprinol 'cancer cure' stories inaccurate - BSA

6 March 2000

Lyprinol 'cancer cure' stories inaccurate - Broadcasting Standards Authority

A MINISTRY of Health complaint about inaccurate TVNZ coverage of green-lipped mussel extract Lyprinol has been upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

"We are delighted," Director-General of Health Karen Poutasi said today.

"When a vulnerable group of people - those with cancer - turned on their tv sets one evening last year to see 'world exclusive' stories about a so-called 'cure for cancer' naturally many would have believed the product being touted was a medicine."

"Although the fact that Lyprinol was merely a dietary supplement for which no therapeutic claims could be made was clarified in later stories, our concerns about the false hope created for many New Zealanders remained."

'Of course we would like there to be a cure for cancer and regret, especially for the sake of those with the disease, that there isn't. Given that, we welcome the Authority's decision and its implications for accurate and responsible broadcasting of similar stories in the future."

The Authority says both One Network News and Holmes, in the programmes aired on July 30, breached the standard for accuracy and raised issues requiring balance.

"Viewed on their own, the programmes put to air on 30 July cause the Authority concern. In that respect it has considerable sympathy with the criticisms which the Ministry makes," the decision says.

Made public today, the decision found that questions of accuracy and balance were addressed in later programmes but says "much of this coverage was needed to counteract the inaccuracies and lack of balance in the initial reporting."

The Authority also notes that while it was unable to reach a conclusion about whether there was an orchestrated campaign to create a news story to coincide with a product launch "the broadcaster could have been expected to anticipate the highly emotive response."

The Ministry's complaint had the support of the New Zealand Medical Association and the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Not all aspects of the complaint were upheld.

Dr Poutasi said a decision on whether to prosecute any of the companies involved in marketing Lyprinol for breaches of the Medicines Act - which prohibits making therapeutic claims for non-medicines - currently rested with the Crown Solicitor.

ENDS

For more information contact: Frances Ross Chief media advisor Tel 496 2202/025 512 833


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