Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FDA cracks down on corporate drug dealers

In this case, the renegade drug company is none other than General Mills purveyors of such nasty contraband as Cheerios®. My first reaction was to crack up hysterically at what, on the surface, appears to be histrionics in the face of overblown health claims for something that is no more than a tasty treat (and pretty darned good potty training tool). In all honesty, General Mills' advertising is fraudulent and something should be done but I still have a problem with the fact that neither the FDA nor the FTC do anything about so-called nutritional supplements until at least a couple of people die. The reason the FDA does nothing is because that old bag of vinegar & water, David Kessler, and his buddy Orrin Hatch sold out the agency's regulatory authority over herbal/nutritional "supplements" & vitamins in an effort to get the Senate to approve FDA user fees. This eventually lead to the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

I'm cautiously optimistic that the FDA's willingness to threaten to pull every box of Cheerios over fraudulent but relatively innocuous claims (and no real potential for adverse effects to consumers) will be parlayed into attempts to regain the truly necessary oversight and regulation of the vitamin and supplement industry. The fact that FTC chairman, Jon Leibowitz, has grown a set to look into the marketing of that that bastion of addiction liability and dangerous treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder, Frosted Mini Wheats® makes me wonder why that agency has only decided to act because some kids believe an animated mini wheat that says they'll be more attentive if they eat the cereal when the energy could be much better spent holding the enormous diet industry accountable for overtly fraudulent and deceptive advertising practices (some of which are on products that have never been proven to be safe, let alone effective). Is the agency afraid to go after these companies because their reaction to FTC suggestion they may want to expand oversight of advertising to include testimonials on blogs and make it clear that user testimonials aren't evidence of product efficacy was for the diet industry to lobby for a right to make false advertising claims?

Both the FTC and the FDA need to get their priorities straight and take action against the more egregious manufacturers of dietary supplements before they go after the breakfast food industry.


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