In 1994 Congress (pushed by Senators Harkin and Hatch) passed DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act). As regular readers of SBM know, we are not generally happy about this law, which essentially deregulated the supplement industry. Under DSHEA supplements, a category which specifically was defined to include herbals, are regulated more like food than like medicinals.
Since then the flood-gates opened, and there has been open competition in the marketplace for supplement products. This has not resulted, I would argue, in better products – only in slicker and more deceptive claims. What research we have into popular herbals and supplements shows that they are generally worthless (except for targeted vitamin supplementation, which was already part of science-based medicine, and remains so).
A company can essentially put a random combination of plants and vitamins into a pill or liquid and then make whatever health claims they wish for their product, as long as they stay within the “structure-function” guidelines. This means they Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*
On the NPR Shots blog, Scott Hensley reports: “This Just In: Fake News Is No Way To Sell Acai Berries.” Excerpt:
“Some marketers of weight-loss products containing acai berries are also purveyors of news you shouldn’t use, the Federal Trade Commission says.
The FTC has asked federal courts to put a stop to the activities of 10 different outfits that the commission alleges use “fake news websites” to tout acai berry weight-loss products.
Chances are you’ve stumbled across the sites, which often sport the logos of major mainstream news organizations, such as ABC, CNN and Consumer Reports. (See this example posted by the FTC.)
Take, for example the FTC’s complaint against Beony International LLC, a company based in San Diego.
The company allegedly ran sites with names such as “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” and “Health 6 Beat Health News.” The sites feature purportedly objective investigative reports of acai products by reporters, who supposedly tried the stuff “and experienced dramatic and positive results.”
The blog post also includes links to examples and complaints posted by the FTC, a Consumer Reports feature on acai scams and this Better Business Bureau video warning about free trial scams.
Unfortunately, every day in our nationwide scan of health news stories, we see REAL news stories that look like advertising. So advertising that is made to look like news is not surprising.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*