A former client of IHRB took his claim to the Consumer Tribunal and lost, due to three factors: 1. The Senior Tribunal Member did not read the Application, and was sorely mistaken about the nature of the claim, which led to the Member asking for the IMPOSSIBLE, the UNREASONABLE, and the IRRELEVANT; 2. It is alleged that IHRB’s solicitor gave false and misleading information to the Member; 3. It is alleged that IHRB’s submission was riddled with untruths.
The client, whom we will call ST, whose full identity is known to all the relevant Departments, had spent approximately $12,000 on a useless treatment. When his hair did not grow back, he began to investigate Sam Cohen’s operation, and he discovered that Sam Cohen had deceived him about IHRB’s supposed phantom secret formulation.
ST lowered his claim from approximately $12,000 to under $10,000 so that he can be sure that the Tribunal would not permit Mr Cohen to engage his solicitor. Sadly, the Tribunal deviated from its own policy, and it did permit the solicitor, whom, we allege, has a tendency to mislead the Tribunal (more about that below). ST went unrepresented.
ST knew that his hair had not grown back. However, that was not his claim. He went to the Consumer Tribunal seeking a refund on the basis that Mr Cohen had misrepresented the products. ST said that Mr Cohen had told him (as I know he told me and many other clients) that his formula is the best in the world because it contains IHRB’s secret intellectual property, which Mr Cohen refers to as his ‘Indian Curries’. ST felt ripped-off when he discovered that no such efficacious formulation existed. ST was being sold Minoxidil at $500 per bottle. This was a right-royal rip-off, and downright fraud, because Mr Cohen does not have a formula that can regrow hair. The products he relies upon are market-ready medications that anyone could obtain elsewhere at around $15 per bottle. If Mr Cohen were to have an efficacious product that does regrow hair, it would be deemed to be a therapeutic product; and all such therapeutic products need to be Registered with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and such products would need to be backed-up with scientific testing, clinical trials, and proof of efficacy and safety (notwithstanding that Mr Cohen would then be the 3rd richest man in the world). Furthermore, ST asserted that the advertisements which lured him, should never have been published because IHRB was told in 2007 to remove its ads. Instead, IHRB continued to ignore those Sanctions. Besides, from the first day that IHRB opened its doors, none of its advertisements had TGA Advertising Approvals, despite Mr Cohen being warned about this several times by the authorities.
HOW THE CONSUMER TRIBUNAL FAILED IN ITS DUTIES
The presiding Senior CTTT Member did not so much as read the first sentence in the Application Form which alleged that IHRB illegally (because it is unlicensed and prohibited) sold a product at up to $900 per bottle, when that same product can be purchased elsewhere at $15 per bottle, and sometimes as low as $7.
So, the Application was simple: The products were sold on the basis that they contain a secret, exclusive therapeutic product, which the Applicant alleges do not exist, in that nothing that Sam Cohen illegally adds to Minoxidil or Activance can has any therapeutic effect over an above what Minoxidil (from pharmacies) can do. (Activance (from hairdressers) does not regrow hair, and is purported to be used just so that Mr Cohen does not incriminate himself for selling Scheduled medications.)
How does the Senior CTTT Member treat the case? He does not read, he does not understand, he does not care. He just makes a silly useless remark that the Applicant has not proved that the medications do not work. First, we must note that Minoxidil does work for many users. Minoxidil can work well, but it is $7 per bottle. It is not the invention of IHRB. It is like someone selling Viagra at over 100 times its market price, by crushing the tablets and selling the powder and claiming that it is worth 100 times more because it contains a special secret exclusive herbal extract that makes it the best product in the world, while claiming that Viagra on its own would not work and if it were to work, it would soon fail because it is nothing more than a flash in the pan. Viagra does work for many people. The Applicant can’t prove that Viagra does not work, because it does work. The question is not whether or not Viagra (or in this case Minoxidil) works, but what was promised to be inside the medication.
NOTHING TO DO WITH HAIR RE-GROWTH
ST’s Application had NOTHING whatsoever to do with hair regrowth or hair loss! The Tribunal Member failed to understand this point. The Applicant was not claiming a refund in relation to his hair! No, he was claiming it based on being sold products that were represented as containing secret natural extracts, which he alleged do not exist, because no proof of their existence can be furnished (as is required by law, that such proof be furnished — and because the three compounding pharmacist all said that no IHRB-exclusive efficacious hair regrowth formula do exists).
A VITAL ANALOGY TO UNDERSTAND
The Tribunal must understand this analogy if it is to understand this intricate case that has thus far, we allege, been filled with lies and deceptive conduct by both the Respondent and his solicitor:
Imagine an unlicensed, unqualified man who happens to learn about the existence of Viagra. He knows that the main ingredient for Viagra is Sildenafil. That con-man puts ads in the paper saying that he can assist clients with erectile dysfunction. People come to him seeking help. The con-man says, ‘Nothing on the market works well. I have the best product in the world because I invented it. I have the most effective solution that works every time. Pay me $4,900 and go to your doctor and get a prescription for Sildenafil. Then come back to me and I will have my chemist make up my special secret formula for you which I will add to the Sildenafil.’ The con-man hoards the prescriptions and alters their quantity so that a prescription for ‘1’ pack is changed to be for ‘12’ packs (now he has stock to sell to others who do not have a prescription. The request for a prescription is his ticket to access stock, illegally). In the end, all that he is selling is the very effective and proven Viagra which he or his chemist crushes and re-packages into a blank white box, claiming that it contains his secret exclusive Intellectual Property. All the while, this is nothing more than Viagra which does indeed work for many clients.
The Viagra can be purchased on the market for, say, $7 per month, yet it is sold by the con-man for $225. The higher dosages might sell on the market for $70 per month’s supply, yet the con-man sells them at $900 (with some discounts for repeat customers).
In the end, it is discovered that the con-man is selling nothing more than Viagra, illegally, while unlicensed, along with other very dangerous non-approved and non-recommended drugs, putting client’s health at risk.
This analogy would constitute fraud. An elaborate scam is hatched by deceiving clients into paying for a special secret formula that does not exist, while basic market-ready products are sold at unconscionable profits by a man who is not licensed to sell such products and who is also Prohibited by the HCCC (Health Care Complaints Commission) from selling or supplying such a product, but he continues to do so, which makes it a criminal offence.
In this case which was dismissed in January 2013 by the Senior CTTT Member, the ST submitted an Application Form stating that the Respondent sold him $7 Minoxidil at $500 while leading him to believe that he has special secret exclusive efficacious therapeutic natural extracts.
The Applicant’s focus was on the secret extracts, while the Member was focussing on whether or not his hair grew back.
HOW THE SENIOR TRIBUNAL MEMBER ERRED AND SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE INCOMPETENT
The presiding Member said that he has no evidence that the treatment does not work. He is missing the point because the dangerous treatment does work for some people. ST was not saying it does not work (even though it certainly did NOT work for him). ST’s Application focussed on what was NOT in the bottles; namely, the non-existence of the phantom Indian Curries. So, the Member says, ‘…there is no evidence by the applicant that the treatment is ineffective by way of photograph or otherwise.’
ST was standing right there in front of him, as bald as bald can be. However, even if he had a full head of hair, ST’s claim would still have been still valid, because ST was not arguing about whether or not Minoxidil works. He was saying that Sam Cohen of IHRB deceived him and misled him and ripped him off, charging money for a product that did not contain any exclusive efficacious therapeutic additives, as was claimed by Sam Cohen.
THE UNLAWFUL, MISLEADING, and UNVERIFIED ADVERTISEMENTS
ST further stated a fact: that IHRB’s ads were unlawful, misleading, and unverified. That was a fact. It was a determination made by the experts at the Complaints Resolution Panel who asked IHRB to stop making such misleading claims in its unapproved ads. So, dear reader, what did the Senior Tribunal Member say to this fact? He said, ‘I am not persuaded that the applicant was mislead (sic) to purchase the program for hair re-growth from the respondent.’
The Respondent was Mr Cohen — a man who has a criminal conviction for lying to that very Tribunal. A man whose ads were sanctioned time and again, and now are the subject of a TGA Regulation-9 Order for being unlawful, misleading, and unverified. The Applicant is the man who, to this day, has a website that is in breach of TGA’s Regulation-9 Order. We have Affidavits from numerous victims and from the pharmacists who swear that Mr Cohen’s sales pitch revolves around his supposed secret Indian Curries. Yet, while under Oath and elsewhere, Mr Cohen admits that he has never conducted any clinical trials, and has never listed the ingredients on his bottles, as is required by law (notwithstanding that it was and now is illegal for Mr Cohen to sell therapeutic products of this nature which he admits in his ads are products that contain Scheduled medications/poisons which can only be purchased from a pharmacy (some only with a prescription) and never supplied or sold by IHRB in any way, shape, or form.
ALLEGING THAT THE SOLICITOR ALSO MISLED THE TRIBUNAL
Sam Cohen’s solicitor pipped-up at the Hearing and told the Member (and the Tribunal has an audio record of this on Disk 2 at time code 37:49, ‘Mr ST says he was induced into a contract by a misleading advertisement. We subs, we submit that the advertisement that he has used ah to illustrate that, has nothing misleading in it. Indeed it is to ally factual…’
The solicitor was referring to the very advertisement (presented in evidence) that was indeed Sanctioned by the Complaints Resolution Panel! His statements to the Tribunal were completely untrue and incorrect and misleading, and he should have known better because he was the one to have helped his client to make detailed submissions to the Complaints Resolution Panel. This was a solicitor with full experience in relation to Sam Cohen’s woes.
Then at time code 42:00, the solicitor says: ‘…in terms of [HCCC] Prohibition Order. The Prohibition is simply that Mr Cohen must not sell Minoxidil. Since that Prohibition Order came in, he has not sold Minoxidil. It is supplied, but it is supplied by a chemist…’
Again, the solicitor should know (because he was intimately involved in those affairs) that the HCCC Prohibition Order stated the definition of ‘supply’ and ‘sell’ and made it clear that Mr Cohen was prohibited from supplying. Yet here, we allege that the solicitor misleads the Member by suggesting that it is okay to supply via a pharmacist. That is not permitted, and the solicitor should have known this. The HCCC Order prohibits IHRB from Supplying or Selling via whatever method. Also Laboratory tests show that IHRB is still selling Minoxidil directly.
The solicitor later adds, ‘…the restriction on the advertising related to a select number of sentences within the advertising, not advertising per se. And he has complied with both Prohibition Order and the restriction as regards advertising.’ This is clearly not the case, because if he had complied with the Sanctions, he would not have been warned, and later slapped with a Regulation-9 Order by the TGA!
By his own admission a few seconds earlier, the solicitor admitted that IHRB does supply via the chemist, then now he asserts that his client was completing with the Prohibition Order. This is in complete conflict with what he was saying. It is all very sloppy, designed, we allege, to mislead the Tribunal.
PROVE TO ME THAT THIS MEDICATION DOES NOT WORK
And on it went… until the Tribunal Member asked ST to prove that the medication does not work. This is lunacy. First, the law requires any company that sells Therapeutic Goods to prove that their products are efficacious and that they are safe and scientifically proven, before those products can be sold. Before the Senior Member can ask a consumer to prove (he said via a university trial) that a product does not work, the onus of proof by law rests with the seller who must prove that it DOES work, otherwise the seller is breaking the laws in relation to the sale of Therapeutic Goods. However, the Senior Member ought to know that no matter what proof an Applicant furnishes, the Respondent would object, saying that the contents of the bottle were tampered with. The Applicant can never prove what was in the bottle because he would always be accused of tampering with the bottle in some way. It is an impossible task. The daisy-chain would be broken the moment the Applicant takes possession of the bottle. A Senior Member ought to have known about the inadmissibility of evidence when a daisy-chain is broken. Apparently he had no idea. ANYWAY, THE BIG SHOCKER is that the Senior Member does not seem to understand that companies spend millions of dollars (sometimes billions) to prove a product, after spending up to 20 years of testing and clinical trials… and he wants this consumer to go and conduct those trials to prove a medication’s therapeutic properties? The law requires the seller to prove their products, not the other way around. The Respondent (Mr Cohen) admitted in another Hearing that he had never conducted scientific trials. Selling unverified therapeutic products is against the law. Go figure.