A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘Lloydspharmacy Allergy Reliever’

Red light redux

Posted by apgaylard on May 18, 2011

Three years ago I investigated claims that were being made for a red-light phototherapy device, marketed as a hay fever treatment by Lloydspharmacy.  The claims were based on a single, small, un-replicated trial with blinding problems (Neuman and Finkelstein, 1997).  Given that this is the hay fever season, I thought I’d revisit the topic and see if things have changed much.

The only new investigation of red-light devices phototherapy treatment for hay fever I am aware of was published in 2009.  Emberlin and Lewis (2009) reported “a double-blind, placebo-controlled grass pollen challenge conducted out of the pollen season, on 101 adult male and female hay fever sufferers. Subjects were assigned to placebo or active groups by stratified random sampling using responses to a baseline questionnaire. All subjects used active or placebo devices three times a day for 14 days before pollen challenge. Subjects were monitored for 2.5 h after challenge.”

On the positive side, the authors found:

“Significant reductions in severity of symptom scores were found for sneezing, running nose, running eyes and itchy mouth/palate (p < or = 0.05).”

But, on the other hand:

“No significant differences were found in the results for itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat, ECPs, PIFn and PEFn.”

The authors concluded:

“The results show that the device significantly reduced some hay fever symptoms. The study would have been improved if compliance was monitored electronically and if nasal congestion was monitored by report. The mode of action is unclear. The study does not consider long-term implications of the therapy.”

In December 2009 the ASA considered whether this study was sufficient to support the claims that Lloydspharmacy had made in a TV commercial.  (You can read the adjudication here.)  The decision went against them.  The ASA’s expert found a number of problems with using this study to support Lloydspharmacy’s claims: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Phototherapy | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stuck at a Red Light

Posted by apgaylard on July 1, 2008

As part of my follow-up on the single, small, un-replicated study that underpins the claims made for the LloydsPharmacy Allergy Reliever, Medinose and BioNase products, I was encouraged [Hat tip to dvnutrix] to try and get my concerns about the poorly concieved sham therapy used in this work published in the journal that originally carried the article: the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Now, as the article is ten years old I wasn’t very optimistic.  However, I hoped that the currency of the commercial claims being loaded onto it might persuade the editors to publish a short piece of correspondence.

Unfortnately, my initial misgivings have been confirmed and it has been rejected.  Now, I do have some sympathy with the editors: the comment relates to an old article, is not on a very glamorous topic and would take up space that could be given to a more recent work.

However, I do think it is important that where problems are identified in the open literature they are given an airing in that literature; otherwise how are we to trust what we read?  In this spirit I’d just like to share with you the correspondence and covering letter I submitted, along with the editor’s response. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Phototherapy, unpublished | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Operation Rudolph

Posted by apgaylard on June 20, 2008

Note the claim that this is Clinically provenI’ve been talking to Trading Standards and Lloyds Pharmacy about the claims that the latter have been making for their “Allergy Reliever”.   This is a ‘medical device’ that allegedly uses phototherapy to relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.  Put simply: it shines a red light up your nose.

The claim “Clinically proven” appeared on their website and still appears on the product packaging (see image).  Scratching the surface revealed that this claim is based on a single, un-replicated, small, decade-old and deeply flawed trial.

On that basis I am contesting the claim to be “Clinically proven”; Trading Standards have referred the issue to the MHRA and I’m waiting to see what the outcome will be.

In the meantime Lloyds Pharmacy very kindly offered me an “Allergy Reliever” for free.  I accepted on the basis that they understood that it does not constitute an endorsement of the product; and that it will not hold me back from making critical observations.

So, Operation Rudolph was born:  a home experiment aiming to illustrate what I consider to be one of the major flaws in the trial that underpins the claims made for the product: the design of the placebo, or “sham” treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Phototherapy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Blind to the Rudolph Effect

Posted by apgaylard on May 26, 2008

A recent discussion on the bad science forum [thanks to Bryn for highlighting this topic] set me thinking about the claims made for the treatment of hay fever by red light phototherapy.

If you’ve not come across these claims before, they can be seen in the advertising material provided on-line by Lloyds Pharmacy for their “Allergy Reliever” and Health Innovations for their “Medinose Hayfever Treatment“.

These are similar devices that allow you to shove some light-emitting diodes (LED) up your nose and administer a ‘dose’ of red light to the nasal mucosa.  What is the proposed mechanism of action?  Health Innovations say, “Medinose inhibits the release of histamine, relieving or even completely eliminating allergic reactions and complaints in a natural way.”  Lloyds make a similar claim, “Allergy Reliever uses red light therapy to suppress the cells that release histamine, thereby relieving the symptoms of hay fever. ”  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Phototherapy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »