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NEW YORK It’s a reminder that retailers are only one step removed from litigations involving one of their suppliers, especially when that supplier is manufacturing a store brand offering for them.
But perhaps more important, it may also be an indicator that like the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission may be a little more proactive in pursuing regulatory actions than they may have under the Bush administration. The FDA so far this year has issued more than 60 warning letters to dietary supplement companies making inappropriate treatment or prevention claims, and that’s just since the inauguration. It’s not as though the regulation isn’t clear — supplement companies cannot make claims that their products cure, mitigate or prevent any disease state. Though to be clear, many of the recent warning letters target online-only supplement distributors making such egregious claims as cancer prevention or a swine flu cure.
Dietary supplement manufacturers have already done quite a bit to shed an underserved reputation of shilling snake-oil-type products. The Council for Responsible Nutrition, for example, has funded increased advertising review by the National Advertising Division, a program that’s expected to receive additional funding going forward. The association has also become more aggressive of late in defending the industry by challenging critical news reports that base their criticisms on inaccuracies or faulty meta-analyses, and counter those criticisms with arguments grounded in science.