Dragon’s Den episode edited after complaints over ‘unfounded’ claims about treatment of ME

An episode of Dragon’s Den that led to complaints that it promoted “unfounded” claims about the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, has been edited and restored to the iPlayer after being pulled from the platform, the BBC has said.

A statement on the corporation’s website, said “a clarification has been added to the programme on the streaming platform to address the concerns raised.”

A text message appears on screen during the show, as businesswoman Giselle Boxer pitches her Acu Seeds business, which reads: “Acu Seeds are not intended as a cure for any medical condition and advice should always be sought from a qualified healthcare provider about any health concerns.”

In the episode, which first aired on 18 January, Ms Boxer said she had used “diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds” to help her recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome, known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME.

Her experience with ear seeds – tiny needle-free acupressure devices – prompted her to develop her brand Acu Seeds, which received offers from all six of the Dragons, a record achievement in the show’s history.

There are usually five Dragons in the Den. The current regular line-up is Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies and Steven Bartlett. But for the Acu Seeds episode, Gary Neville – the ex-footballer, pundit and businessman – had joined the panel as a guest Dragon.

A disclaimer on Acu Seeds’ website said the product is not used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Proponents of ear seeds say they stimulate pressure points in ears.

The NHS said there is currently no cure for ME, a long-term condition with symptoms including exhaustion, insomnia and struggling to concentrate, but some treatments may help manage it.

Action for ME sent an open letter to the chairs of two House of Commons select committees that said they were “very concerned” about the way in which Ms Boxer’s pitch was presented.

The group said the comments made suggested the product was “responsible for her recovery and should therefore be considered an effective treatment”, but “sadly, there is currently no known effective treatment for ME.”

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The group said on social media that it had also written to BBC director-general Tim Davie to voice its concerns about the episode.

On Friday, the BBC defended the inclusion of the business after receiving complaints, saying products being featured on the programme “should not be seen as an endorsement of them”.

However, the corporation said it was taking the concerns raised seriously and the episode would not be available on iPlayer while it was being reviewed.

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