Industry targets bogus H1N1 claims
This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet
Dietary supplement industry trade groups offer enforcement help against fraudulent H1N1 flu virus claims with their second joint statement this year noting that federal regulations do not allow supplements to make disease claims. The associations note Dec. 7 that FDA and the Federal Trade Commission issued 147 warning letters since May on products making H1N1 prevention or cure claims. "FTC informed us that they were not getting the results they wanted," American Herbal Product Association President Michael McGuffin said in a Dec. 10 e-mail. Natural Products Association Executive Director John Gay said that since the groups' May statement, the cold and flu season started and flu-related claims are more prevalent. The Natural Products Foundation's Truth in Advertising program in October referred 10 firms to FDA and FTC after they failed to amend their ads to comply with regulations (1"The Tan Sheet" Oct. 29, 2009, In Brief). FDA says the bogus H1N1 claims it is finding have slowed since May from seven to 10 a day to as many in a week (2"The Tan Sheet" Oct. 19, 2009). "We are continuing with the same enforcement effort that we have used," a spokesman said. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the United Natural Products Alliance also signed the joint industry statement
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FDA warns My Cosmetic Co. to stop using H1N1 flu virus-related metatags to drive consumers to its Web site for the Zeolite Internal Detox 250-mg supplement product because they make the an unapproved product for the mitigation, prevention and treatment of the H1N1 flu virus. The agency acknowledges in the Dec. 1 warning letter that the Australian firm removed problematic claims that Zeolite could "remove the toxins of Swine Flu," "protect against the swine flu" and "induce a significant inhibitory effect upon viral proliferation," but the remaining metatags remain a problem. Like FDA, industry trade groups both warn that promoting supplements as cures or treatments for H1N1 is illegal (1"The Tan Sheet" Dec. 14, 2009, In Brief)
The Natural Products Foundation's Truth in Advertising program seeks to educate advertisers and ensure marketing complies with rules in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Of the 21 companies the program contacted about questionable marketing, 10 failed to amend their ads and, as a result, the program notified the FDA and Federal Trade Commission. The program also gave the regulators information about seven other Web sites that allegedly make inappropriate disease treatment claims, including claims to cure H1N1, NPF announced Oct. 29
A warning letter sent jointly by FDA and the Federal Trade Commission takes a double-pronged approach toward cracking down on a supplement marketer's claims regarding the H1N1 flu virus