Each day our bodies are under attack by stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, the accumulation of pollutants in the environment, bacteria, viruses, fungus and other potential culprits.
Many people today are health-conscious, trying to exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes there is not enough time to exercise and eat a healthy diet, so many people turn to supplements for weight loss or to boost their immunity, falling for the hype and marketing promises these companies describe. There are dozens of weight loss and immune boosting supplements on the market, which are illegally labeled for marketing purposes. These supplements lack the recommended scientific evidence to back up their health claims, as government investigators are warning in a new review of this $20 billion industry.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general found that 20 percent of the 127 weight loss and immune boosting supplements investigators purchased online and in retail stores across the country, carried labels that made illegal claims about curing or treating a disease.
Specifically, some company’s stated that taking their supplement could cure or prevent diabetes or cancer, or that they could help people with HIV or AIDS, which is totally prohibited under federal law.
Not only are consumers wasting their hard earned money on supplement pills or tablets, they might very well be risking their health if they take a supplement in place of a drug, thinking it will have the same effect, the report concluded.
“Consumers rely on a supplement’s claims to determine whether the product will provide a desired effect, such as weight loss or immune supplement,” the report said. “Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potential dangerous results.”
The market for dietary supplements, including anything from vitamin C to Echinacea capsules, is huge, with hundreds of products on the market. The inspector general’s investigation focused on one segment that officials said is ‘booming.’
Federal regulations do not require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review the supplement company’s scientific evidence for most of their product’s alleged health benefits before they hit the market.
The Office of the Inspector General found that in many cases, when companies did submit evidence to back up their health claims, it lacked much of the government’s recommendations.
Can you imagine the nerve of one company who actually submitted a 30-year-old, handwritten college term paper to substantiate its claim, while other companies included news releases, advertisements and links to Wikipedia or an online dictionary, according to reports?
Overall, the review raises questions about whether the system is permitting companies to mislead consumers, investigators said, and recommends that the FD crack down on these companies. The report did not mention individual brands or specific products, nor did it estimate the total number of dietary supplements on the market.
In response, the food safety agency said it would consider asking congress for more oversight powers to review supplement companies’ evidence proving their products’ health claims. The FDA agreed that the agency should expand surveillance of the market to detect deceitful claims that supplements can cure or treat a specific disease or condition.
Investigators also found that 7 percent of weight loss and immune support supplements, which they surveyed, lacked the required disclaimers stating that the FDA had not reviewed whether the statement on the label was truthful.
These companies are making a fortune misleading consumers. In addition to scamming the public, they are not following FDA guidelines, which are required to protect us. Some people want to believe there is a ‘magic’ supplement that can help them achieve what they need, in some cases, in place of seeking professional medical help for their problem.
Do you think that these companies should be held responsible for their false claims? Feel free to comment on this blog post. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).