A NEW Forest horse-health company has been fined £5,000 for falsely advertising a cream as a medicine.

Horse Health Wessex, on Windsor Road, Cadnam, was selling the product on their website for three-and-a-half years, billing it as a medical product without a license to do so.

The company said that the cream, under the site’s ‘lotions and potions’ tab, could treat sarcoids, which is a type of benign skin tumour most common in horses and donkeys.

Despite the advertisement, they hadn’t registered the product, which came from a US wholesaler, as medical by nature or function, which are the two requirements needed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), who brought the case.

Prosecuting for the VMD, Tom Rainsbury told Southampton magistrates that despite five letters, the company had failed to adhere to the requirements.

With the issue dating back from 2013, the company had changed the description of the product and removed it from the website in 2015 before it reappeared last year following ‘a major website change’.

Mr Rainsbury said: “This product was presented as a medicine in that it could help treat sarcoids with further claims as to other healing qualities. The VMD wrote to the company in June explaining the breach and advised the company that this was an offence.

“There was no response, so another letter was sent in July and the VMD said it was a very serious matter. In July, a letter was received explaining it was a US product and that the company would review the matter, asking to keep the name.”

Other letters were sent in August and October of 2015, with the company eventually removing it. However, after another check from the VMD in March last year, the product had reappeared under the name ‘Super-S’, but again appeared with an image of a sarcoid, giving the same medical impression.

Defence solicitor Barry Culshaw, representing the company, which is directed by Robert Lemieux, said that the product was one of 7,000 on the company’s website and that they didn’t make a large profit from it.

Mr Culshaw said: “The reviews were operated by a separate company and so took a long time to remove.

“The profit over the near four years was £4,030.28 and a cost of the product, without VAT, was £20.79. There are 7,000 products on the website, and this is just one. It wasn't a particularly profitable one either.”

When asked by magistrate Ann Fielder, why if it wasn't a profitable product, it was not removed, Mr Culshaw said that without shutting the whole website down, it couldn't have been taken down.

The company was handed a £5,000 fine and ordered to pay £170 victim surcharge and £250 costs.