The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld a complaint made by a GP against a company that advertised an at-home blood test to help people manage their health as ‘free if we don’t find anything’.
The website for Numan’s Fear Nothing Blood Test which offers a check for up to 21 biomarkers on a three-monthly subscription was found to be misleading because it implied something was medically wrong if a result was outside the ‘normal’ range.
Following a complaint from Glasgow GP Dr Margaret McCartney about how the test was advertised, the ASA also found it was misleading because it did not provide a cost upfront, and was not clear at the start that it was subscription service.
The Fear Nothing Blood Test, which costs £98 for 17 biomarkers or £128 for 21, is sold as a way to ‘Face your health fearlessly. Be proactive. Tackle concerns before they become a problem’, the ASA said.
Factors such as tiredness, weight changes, low mood, insomnia, hormone imbalances, vitamin deficiency, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction and high blood sugar are listed with consumers told: ‘Get clarity. Measure up to 21 of the most important health indicators to get a snapshot of what’s happening inside your body.’
The website stated ‘The test is FREE if we don’t find anything*’, the ASA said.
Numan told the ASA that between 4-10% of users were eligible to receive their first blood test free of charge.
‘At least 90% of people who had used the Fear Nothing Blood Test had a result for at least one biomarker outside of the “normal” range’, the ASA said.
‘We considered that this was a very high proportion of people whose test result indicated that they likely had something medically wrong with them.’
In addition, the ASA found there was also no information in the ad to inform consumers about false positives or that the test may be inaccurate or anything to explain the potential meaning of a result not in the ‘normal’ range.
The ASA also criticised Numan for saying the test was ‘free’ when it only applied to the first blood test and that it was misleading because the consumer had to pay up front then claim the cost back and that people would not be aware how many users would be eligible for the ‘free’ test.
There was no information on the website about how much the test would cost until the individual had provided personal information and details about their health and lifestyle, the ASA added.
Dr Lis Galloway, GP in Surrey, said while she was in favour of people taking control of their health but unvalidated screening tests have potential harms and it was important people were counselled about what a result might mean.
‘We see many, many patients making contact to discuss supposedly abnormal results that private companies have detected. Most of these are in fact completely insignificant and are likely to be a normal standard deviation.’
Pulse has approached Numan for comment.