Magnet health aid firm in legal battle

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Makers of magnet health aids are facing a High Court battle to prove their products help wearers recover from illness and alleviate pain.

The Office of Fair Trading revealed yesterday it was seeking an injunction banning advertising by Magnopulse, a company that sells a variety of magnet therapies - including magnetised water bowls for dogs.

The OFT says the company has refused to drop claims in its advertising that it believes are misleading.

Magnopulse says it will ''vigorously'' contend the action, which may act as a legal test case for the efficacy of health magnets - estimated to be worth £3bn worldwide a year.

Controversy rages over whether health magnets work. Magnopulse, based in Bristol, claims its products are backed by several medical studies. The NHS has recently authorised one of the company's products, 4UlcerCare - for use on patients with leg ulcers - at a cost of £13.80 each.

A study demonstrating the benefit of static magnets was published in the Journal of Wound Care last year. However, many medical experts believe nothing more than a placebo effect derives from magnet therapy.