Second unproven breast cancer testing company "misleading and deceptive"

19 March 2014

Cancer Council WA has welcomed a decision in the Federal Court which has found a second business guilty of false and misleading conduct in promoting an unproven method of breast cancer testing.

Cancer Council WA Education and Research Director Terry Slevin said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is to be applauded for prosecuting the case.

“We believe the effect of their action has been to largely stamp out this industry which we were concerned was on the verge of becoming much more wide spread,” Mr Slevin said.

“The findings against Safe Breast Imaging (SBI) and Ms Jo Firth confirm that companies and individuals who run them, are susceptible to prosecution if they claim a health benefit for a service in the absence of adequate evidence to support that claim,” he said.

This is the second Federal court finding this month to establish that companies offering unproven forms of breast cancer testing have acted illegally in the claims they made about their service.

“The judge has once again found that there is no valid scientific evidence to support the claims that these technologies were effective in detecting breast cancer,” Mr Slevin said.

“In our view this more recent finding was very important as we believe the promotion and marketing by SBI was more widespread than the previous case.

“At the time we approached the ACCC we were aware of plans for SBI to offer their services in Queensland, NSW, Victoria South Australia and the ACT as well as expanding their locations in WA.

“The business was using wide reaching promotional strategies to expand this market, ultimately for a product that offered no benefit and potentially caused harm,” he said.

Cancer Council WA brought the matter to the attention of the ACCC in 2010 due to growing concerns about the extent to which these kinds of companies were promoting their services.

“We were also concerned that these businesses were undermining the efforts of the evidence based breast cancer screening programs run by Breastscreen,” Mr Slevin said.

“The ACCC deserves thanks and congratulations for having an enormous impact in changing the face of an industry that could have continued to cost people a lot of money and potentially do harm in the process.”

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