The university initially stood by the claim, but on Monday, following repeated questions from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald it acknowledged there was no evidence to support that assertion.
It now has withdrawn the press release and launched an investigation into how it was produced, and said it would change its practices to always highlight industry funding.
The study itself involved dosing human cells in a lab with concentrated elderberry juice. There were no tests on humans, or even on mice. In addition, the press release did not mention the study was funded by Pharmacare, a company that sells elderberry-based natural supplement Sambucol.
“This is an appalling misrepresentation of this Pharmacare-funded in-vitro study,” said associate professor Ken Harvey, president of Friends of Science in Medicine. “It was inappropriate and misleading to imply from this study that an extract was ‘proven to fight flu’.” See also:by