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The Scam Scam

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 cannot claim to cure or treat a specific disease, but this has proven to be an insignificant limitation on marketing supplements.

It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of supplement marketing claims and strategies. One new twist caught my eye – what I am calling the “scam scam.” Some companies realize that the internet is the primary battle ground for the marketing of their product. Many companies also probably know that their claims are largely scientifically baseless – if you’re in the meeting where the claims are crafted and the marketing strategy developed, it would be hard to be delusional about their scientific validity. I suspect most companies just don’t care about the science or understand it, and you can find some justification to cherry pick for most any supplement claim you wish with just a little Googleing.

It also appears that many companies are starting to realize that “those meddling skeptics” are starting to cramp their style, at least a little bit. If you search on the name of a supplement product, you are likely to get a link for a consumer protection or skeptical site revealing the claims to be a scam, or at least scientifically dubious. Invariably when I write about a specific product in a blog post a company marketing rep will show up in the comments to claim that I was unfair and that they do have evidence for their claims. Of course, when asked for the evidence it rapidly becomes clear that they don’t have any, outside a worthless in-house study or two.

Companies cannot silence the scientific analysis of their claims. Some have tried using the libel laws, but that has generally not worked out well for them. That approach instantly raises the visibility of the criticism by orders of magnitude, and the companies or individuals generally lose in the end.

So now some companies have hit upon a different strategy – if you cannot silence the skeptics, then bury them with fake skeptics of your own. That way at least their websites won’t appear on the first page of Google searches (at least that’s the hope). One product, Shakeology, seems to be marketed entirely as “Shakeology Scam” (trek2befit (dot) com/shakeology-scam). The website starts out saying – “Do Not buy Shakeology” with “Skakeology Scam” in big letters. Of course, when you read down even a little bit you find:

Ok, I couldn’t let this question linger any longer. I’ve got to tell you right now, that it’s not a scam. Why, and how do I know? Because I’ve had first hand experience with this product.

Then you get a standard sales pitch – but it’s more believable, because the person making the pitch started out as a skeptic – right? What do these magic shakes do? The claims are typical – lose weight without food cravings, have more energy, and they throw in that they will lower your cholesterol. What are in these shakes:

- Antioxidants: Will help to boost your immune system to prevent you from getting sick. Antioxidants will also help to lower free radical damage which can lead to stroke, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Prebiotics AND Probiotics: Will help to support your immune and digestive health.
- Phytonutrients: Will help to support healthy immune function. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidant properties.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Will help you to maintain optimal health.
- Whey Protein: Will help you to lose weight, build muscle, supports brain functions, as well as keeps your bones and skin healthy.
- Digestive Enzymes, Fiber and More…

Antioxidants are of no proven benefit, and may actually be associated with a higher death rate. Prebiotics and probiotics are of no benefit when taken routinely, and of dubious benefit (and only if taken very early and in sufficient amounts) for antibiotic-associated GI syndromes. Phytonutrients and routine vitamin supplementation – again, no proven benefit. Whey protein is protein, and you can get this a lot cheaper by drinking Yoohoo. And again, digestive enzymes are of no proven benefit for routine use. Fiber is good, but you don’t need to buy expensive shakes to get it.

The claims are typical and you can find them on thousands of websites selling all sorts of supplements. But the “scam scam” marketing is a nice twist. I especially like the glowing comments at the bottom that read like ad copy.

I have encountered this strategy before also – with some of the “superfood” products. Specifically, there has been an acai scam marketing campaign going on. If you search on “acai scam” you will find sites with headlines like, “Acai Berry Scam – the Untold Truth about Acai Berry Scams.” Once again, when you read the copy you find that an “independent reporter” investigated the alleged scam and found that that a particular acai berry product was not a scam and really worked. Some are formatted as if they are news sites, complete with stock photos of fake reporters.

So don’t be scammed by the scam scam. It’s all just another marketing ploy in the wild west of the supplement marketplace.

Posted in: Herbs & Supplements, Nutrition, Politics and Regulation

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56 thoughts on “The Scam Scam

  1. Scott says:

    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.

    More realistically, they can make whatever health claims they wish for their product, full stop. For a long time, anyway, even if the FDA does finally catch up with some of them.

    The Airborne case is a notorious example where they made very specific health claims for a very long time. Just last night I saw commercials for supplements to “improve short-term memory” and “lose weight.” Very specific health claims which can’t possibly be argued as structure-function.

    TECHNICALLY they are required to remain with the structure-function guidelines (which are pretty meaningless to begin with). But that restriction is not effectively enforced, so as a practical matter it hardly exists.

  2. Jimmylegs says:

    I wonder if one day ad agencies will run out of tricks in order to get sales.

    An intresting thought has come up. The crazy conspiracy people claim that Big Pharma keeps them (the supplement people) down, but at the moment laws are very lax against what they can put in and claim with no evidence to back it up.

    What kind of out cry would happen if a law is pass (or at least in the works) that make the supplement industry have the same standards as medicine, thus requiring to show some kind of safety and effectiveness. If I could have it my way that is how it would have been from the start, but alas I am just a man.

    “Antioxidants: Will help to boost your immune system to prevent you from getting sick.”

    I like that point, right out the gate a 1st (maybe 2nd) year biology student would tell you that is incorrect. It’s always interesting to read claims on these types of items and how they use “big” fancy words to seem more legitimate.

    Also the claim if your immune system is boosted it will prevent you from getting sick is false, it assumes a stronger immune system WILL (cap for emphasis) prevent illness.

  3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I’ve always thought an appropriate disincentive for most false advertising or illegal products would be the wholesale removal of all profits rather than a fine of lesser value. If you made $1,000,000 selling toothpaste made of engine degreaser and table salt (marketed as “fairy tears” and “crystals attuned to the heartbeat of Mother Earth” respectively), a fine of $50,000 seems more like the cost of doing business rather than a true penalty. Oh noes! The company president doesn’t get to buy a third corporate Hummer but our profit margin is still 30%!

    But I’m just a simple caveman, revived by your scientists. Your laws and court system confuses and startles me…

    Ha, Phil Hartman.

  4. windriven says:

    Caveat emptor.

    Don’t hold your breath on the law changing anytime soon. Your Nation’s Solons can barely agree that the current month is August (and a few on the fringes still aren’t convinced). The ultimate cure is suffusing the populace with critical thinking skills.

    There will always be a subset of the population that wallows happily in ignorance and delusion. OK by me.

  5. idoubtit says:

    The “I used to be a skeptic” angle is commonly used in many places including paranormal claims. The admission that you were convinced by evidence or experience lends credibility to the claim. It suggests that being a skeptic was a very proper position to take — I am critical, I am smarter than that to believe such stuff. Yet, when I looked at this evidence, it overwhelmed me. YOU should be convinced too (because you are smart like me [wink,wink]). And the observer may think, “Well, if this person was convinced… (I’ll just take a short cut and believe them since I don’t want to spend the time to examine it on my own), it must have some validity”.

    It’s an effective ploy that is totally conspicuous to people who actually practice skepticism.

  6. Angora Rabbit says:

    The whey protein claim does have a grain of truth buried deep within. A colleague is studying this and I’m on the thesis committees, so have a “front-row” seat. The story is that, in the mix of proteins that is whey*, there is a protein called glycomacropeptide. GMP lacks phenylalanine and has been approved as a food for those with PKU, hence the interest. In the human PKU feeding trial, they incidentally found (PMCID: PMC2906609) a suppression of post-prandial ghrelin levels after GMP intake. Ghrelin is orexigenic and so affects appetite. There’s a whole series of caveats here, and on-going work now looks at GMP in animal models to see if there is any truth to the initial observations (e.g. PMCID: PMC2777771).

    But as always, one paper does not make a claim and much more work needs to be done. Sadly, one can do nothing about less scrupulous people who want to make $$ over exaggerating the scientific literature.

    * Whey is the protein leftover from cheese making, and there is great interest in finding alternate uses for this protein rather than sending it down the drain.

  7. Costner says:

    Jimmylegs: I wonder if one day ad agencies will run out of tricks in order to get sales.

    I sincerely doubt it. Most of their tricks are really nothing new… there are just different takes on how to fool the unsuspecting or uneducated consumer.

    In time, consumers start to catch on – but then the marketers can simply tweak the strategy. At some point in the future, they can come full circle and start all over again. What was once old is new again. Rinse and repeat…

    Personally, my favorite gimmick right now is when the miracle weight loss supplements all make statements such as “If you lose more than 10lbs in 10 days discontinue use…” as if that is a legitimate warning. The non-ignorant among us know that those types of statements are just preying upon the desires of the overweight to lose massive amounts of weight in a short time with zero effort, so when they hear a disclaimer that seems like more of a positive rather than a negative… they are sold.

    Unfortunately, for better or for worse, the ignoramii will always fall for a sales pitch whether it is based upon logic or not. A skeptic will always look for the underlying truth and will always try to determine what the motivating factors are – but the marketing has never been designed to appeal to skeptics, so this type of gimmickry will likely always work well on the target market.

    I must admit to some degree darwinism is at play here. I’m torn on how much we should do to protect people from themselves, because if they are willing to believe whatever anyone tells them, perhaps they are deserving of a lighter wallet. Tough call.

  8. Ugh. I hate the skeptic-turned-believer gambit. And I completely agree with WLU about the fines. There seem to be no disincentives for this crime at the moment.

  9. Nescio says:

    I have come across many of these websites – if you put the name of a supplement or any dubious sCAM product into Google with “scam”, “skeptic” or “quack” you will probably find one. Many of them seem to be built from the same template, so presumably there is someone out there selling this as a money making venture.

    Angora Rabbit,
    I’ve read a lot of claims that whey protein isolate contains specific proteins that increase glutathione levels, improving health.

    From what I know about biochemistry, it is reduced glutathione that is important, not total levels, and we have numerous mechanisms that ensure adequate levels of reduced glutathione. If we didn’t, our eye lenses would become opaque and our red blood cells would lyse. Am I correct in this?

  10. Composer99 says:

    Basically, instead of competing to produce the best product (in terms of quality – insofar as such ineffective products can be said to have quality), the manufacturers are competing to produce the best marketing pitch.

    This reminds me of the incident in Hungary where lead poisoning was traced to contamination of paprika by red-painted lead.

    In this case, Hungarian paprika manufacturers, in the absence of effective consumer protection regulation, competed to produce the best-looking paprika instead of the best-quality paprika.

  11. gziomek says:

    I imagine that at some point there can be a narrative that turns out to be a scam, scam, scam, scam, scam, scam type of scam.

  12. Isn’t “Shakeology” a great name for homeopathy? :) Since it’s all the magical succussion that potentatizes the majestical mystical holistical healing potions, an’ all!

  13. Angora – I looked at that to (whey protein). I found some articles on Pub-med, but all basic science. The one clinic study I found looked just like noise. There is always some basic science stuff you can extrapolate from – but this almost never pans out, partly because the picture is always incomplete. Clinical studies are the test, but by the time proper studies are done the public is already convinced by marketing hype that X is the greatest thing ever – whatever it is.

  14. Zetetic says:

    I’ve seen another twist on this kind of scam. Tony Isaacs, a natural treatments purveyor of a supposed miracle cancer cure-all “juice” preparation made from the highly poisonous oleander plant, includes in his bio an account of his exposure supposedly on Fox news of another natural/woo seller’s “fake cure for cancer.” It’s an attempt to make his own product appear genuine!

  15. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Live-healthcare, how does a website whose current leading topic is about waterproof cameras relate to a blog about science based medicine?

    And please, please tell us specifically what you liked about the post. I’m keen to learn.

    Spammer.

    Editor’s note: the e-mail to which this refers was indeed spam (somehow got through the filters) and was removed.

  16. Pete says:

    I agree with almost all points in the article. The only point I am not sure about is (neither agree nor disagree)

    “Whey protein is protein, and you can get this a lot cheaper by drinking Yoohoo.”

    Is this implying that all protein is the same?

    Does the biological value of the protein not matter at all regardless of the individual goal? I understand protein in Yoohoo is also whey protein so does the sentence really mean to say “whey protein is whey protein”?

    Does the Yoohoo have the same amount of whey protein (4 grams in a 15.5 oz. bottle isn’t very much at all) and is the price per gram of protein of Yoohoo taken into account? Maybe the amount of protein doesn’t matter at all but I thought on an episode of the Skeptic’s Guide to Universe it was pointed during a science or fiction out that it DID matter and the people in the study drank chocolate milk (different enough than Yoohoo). I could definitely be wrong here. I’m going from memory and we all know how accurate that is.

    If someone is trying to minimize losing lean tissue while maximizing losing fat does the ratio of carbs to protein in combination with overall caloric intake matter at all (wouldn’t the simple sugars in Yoohoo spike insulin lowering blood sugar levels and lead to increased appetite)?

    If anyone can point me to some reputable sources with double-blinded experiments either invalidating or validating these questions I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

  17. Angora Rabbit says:

    Steve, yeah, it’s not clear if this will pan out. I agree, like the vast majority of the claims it won’t be useful and by then the scammers will have made their bucks. That’s the problem with being so honest. :)

    Not sure if this answers Nescio’s Glutathione question, but in general you’re right and most folks aren’t “deficient” in GSH because they are not limiting in their amino acid intake. GSH is made from glutamate, glycine and cysteine, amino acids we intake in copious amounts (so yeah, I guess any protein containing these would contribute to GSH synthesis but again that’s disingenuous). The typical Westerner intakes far more protein than we need. There are certain medical conditions (alcoholism is the one I know) where a lot of time is spent looking at both total and reduction levels. I’d have to poke at the alcoholic liver literature to see if it actually translated into clinical utility, and I’m not certain that it did.

  18. CC says:

    So many things to reply to…

    I have heard gullible people who believe in all kinds of nonsense call themselves “skeptics” because they disbelieved mainstream science. (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”) But because I saw that usage fairly regularly when I first encountered people who used it as a self-descriptor, I tend to be a bit skeptical (ha) of people and groups who call themselves skeptics, even if they actually do apply critical thinking and science to what they’re looking at.

    Advertising: it works. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t do it. It may not work on everybody, but it works on enough people to make it worth their while. Ah, to dream of the day when enough people have the knowledge, ability, and will to apply critical thinking to ads, to make advertising not worth the money. (I like ads in the yellow pages. That’s where they belong – when I’m looking for something.)

    Weight loss: isn’t it 1-2 lbs per *week* that’s the recommended healthy weight loss rate? I can’t recall. I once lost 10lbs in a weekend. I don’t recommend it. (Flu.)

    Antioxidants: I have only heard the mainstream hype until now: will be reading your article shortly. I do note that I have heard less about antioxidants and more about omega-3s lately. That must be the newer fad? Or has something displaced omega-3 as the latest holy grail?

    Immune boosters: there are people who think a strong immune system will prevent you from getting sick of anything? I always read those claims as “this will help you fight off illness”, and it hadn’t occurred to me that some people considered them universal, 100% effective vaccines. (Oops, did I say a dirty word?)

  19. oderb says:

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss whey protein Dr. Novella:

    Topic: Whey Protein May Alter Body Weight and Composition

    Keywords: BODY WEIGHT, OVERWEIGHT, OBESITY – Whey Protein, Soy Protein

    Reference: “Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults,” Baer DJ, Stote KS, et al, J Nutr, 2011; 141(8): 1489-94. (Address: Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA).

    Summary: In a study involving 90 overweight and obese subjects randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments for a period of 23 weeks: 1) whey protein (providing 56 g/d protein and 1670 kJ/d); 2) soy protein (providing 56 g/d protein and 167- kJ/d); 3) isoenergetic amount of carbohydrate, consumed twice daily, added to their normal free-choice diets, supplementation with whey protein was found to be associated with reductions in body weight (-1.8 kg), fat mass (-2.3 kg), waist circumference, and fasting ghrelin. No such changes were found in the soy protein or carbohydrate groups. The authors state, “Through yet-unknown mechanisms, different sources of dietary protein may differentially facilitate weight loss and affect body composition.” The effects of whey protein supplementation on weight loss and body composition warrants further investigation.

  20. hugh cary oates says:

    I was recently re-reading some chapters of “Hidden History” by Daniel J. Boorstin and came upon a section about the subject of Advertising and its relationship to the history of the US. He has several interesting observations. One very intriguing point: after describing the various ways in which land owners, developers, and politicians engaged in over-hyping the wonders and resources of the new world for the purpose of luring would-be immigrants here, Boorstin asks, “How has American civilization been shaped by the fact that there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe advertising?”
    So, collectively, it would seem, some (or many) of us are the products of credulous genes.

    Is anyone aware of a study of this?

    Then, of course, there is also the line by Peter Cook’s Devil in the original movie, “Bedazzled”, where the devil counts the invention of Advertising as one of his greatest achievements.

  21. Skepgineer says:

    oderb: Wow. That study looks too good to be true.

  22. JPZ says:

    @Steven Novella

    Then you missed most of the studies on whey. Try keywords like “casein glycomacropeptide,” “whey protein concentrate,” “whey protein isolate,” “milk serum, “whey protein hydrosylate,” “alpha lactalbumin,” “beta lactalbumin,” “branched chain amino acids,” etc. They are all “whey.” The field is big, well-funded (Nestle, Danone, Arla, etc.) and full of high quality clinical trials. Now, I agree that there are far more junk whey [b]claims[/b] on the internet and being pawned on consumers, but to measure the quality of the science by the foolishness of other people’s claims is unfair. It would be like measuring the quality of the medical profession based on news reports and crazy websites – there is far more crazy stuff than real stuiff.

    @Skepgineer

    I read the study in question and know some of the authors. Care to provide substantive feedback? USDA Beltsville is generally a conservative lab.

  23. JPZ says:

    Here is where I get annoyed. If I provide evidence that some dietary supplement or functional food works, then I get one of the following responses:

    1) If it works it is a drug. This point of view completely ignores the fact that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs in the US, and they cannot make drug claims. Perhaps you would like them to be regulated as drugs, but they aren’t. Dietary supplement companies who make drug claims are breaking the law. Call your congressional representative. What works, works. Is keeping people healthy with scientifically validated products a problem?

    2) The study is weak (subjectively) and should be ignored. Since when did we start throwing out data? If the evidence in favor of an intervention outweighs the evidence against it, why does one dismiss the results on the basis of non-fatal flaws in the study design? This sounds like a Cochrane review throwing out studies for not describing their randomization method (yes, I know the CONSORT guidelines).

    3) If there is data to support use of a dietary supplement, then the marketers will blow it all out of proportion and invalidate any science that might support its use. This happens, sadly enough. And I really don’t like it when it does. But, the responsible companies are very careful about what they say and how they say it. The FTC is on the prowl for over-reaching claims, and mostly they are doing a good thing.

    4) Supplements don’t work except for vitamin deficiencies, which are rare. Seriously? Are you unaware that science advances? The macula lutea in the eye (described for hundreds of years) is the highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin in the body (figured out 20-some years ago by a friend of mine). These aren’t vitamins, they are carotenoids with no vitamin A activity. They are found in corn and spinach, and the body cannot synthesize them. There are specific transporters to put these carotenoids in the eye, and there are now clinical trial data (AREDS II) showing some benefit of their supplementation in macular degeneration.

    5) So many companies are making false and misleading claims that the whole field of dietary supplements is discredited. Really? If one were to weigh the number of vaccine-autism claims against the truth, then one could make the same assumption about vaccines.

    I would love to engage in a genuine science-based dialog about the evidence for and against different nutritional products, e.g. Steven’s dismissal of probiotics without looking at the data for IBD and other outcomes (as well as whey which I mentioned before). My concern is that this group has hashed and re-hashed these points with CAMers and sCAMers so often that there may be a reluctance to discuss real science.

  24. woo-fu says:

    @hugh cary oats

    Boorstin asks, “How has American civilization been shaped by the fact that there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe advertising?”
    So, collectively, it would seem, some (or many) of us are the products of credulous genes.

    That would explain why so many would take such a treacherous journey to escape one form of religious persecution only to institute their own brand. Others came to escape prison and poverty. A portion of each group likely came to strike it rich. It was a perfect set-up for the Mad Men of marketing that followed.

    Then, of course, there is also the line by Peter Cook’s Devil in the original movie, “Bedazzled”, where the devil counts the invention of Advertising as one of his greatest achievements.

    Such a good film! Then there’s “How to Get Ahead in Advertising”–another fine piece of satire.

    @JPZ

    It seems marketing is so embedded in drug AND supplement development and promotion that real education on the science gets the back seat. The motive is simply to sell. Whoever does it well, however that gets done, gets the big bonuses. Until that changes, it will be difficult to have truly reasonable discussions about these issues.

  25. libby says:

    I do not agree that herbs should be regulated in the way that pharma drugs are. The side effects from drugs like Hismanal and Zomax are dangerous and should be carefully scrutinized before and after being marketed in the interests of public safety, and as in the case of these 2 drugs, should be withdrawn as soon as someone is permanently injured or dies after treatment.

    As a general rule, this is not the case with herbs. Of course some are dangerous. Carrots are also toxic if over-consumed.

    But the question is more a matter of freedom.

    MacDonald’s advertizes their products as food, but if anyone watched the movie SuperSize Me, you will notice that one’s health is quickly and seriously affected by consuming such stuff. What kind of food does that to anyone?

    It is up to the public themselves, without an intrusive nanny-state government, to be educated and vigilant re their own health.

  26. DW says:

    How does this follow, Libby? I don’t get it. If you don’t want a “nanny state” regulating your food or your supplements, why should they regulate your drugs?

  27. JPZ says:

    @libby

    You have no idea what you are talking about. You have been a persistant troll since you started contributing to SBM. Even if I proved you wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt, you would find some reason to ignore the facts and continue to state falsehoods as the “truth” and state that anyone who disagrees with you is trying to cover up. I say this based on your repeated pattern of behavior on other discussion threads here – not conjecture. You have shown no sign of being open minded or skeptical. I admire the patience that others have shown for your posts (e.g. HH), and I cannot blame others (e.g. WLU) for mocking you without compassion. Your ignorance of basic and verifiable facts is phenomenal, and your commitment to ridiculous and unsupported claims is laughable. I am not sure who gave you the impression that you know the least bit about science, but you should slap that person as hard as you can. Many people here have patiently tried to educate you and share actual science with you, but you have shown remarkable resistance to absorbing facts.

    You are a hopeless troll who only derives pleasure from upsetting rational people. No one here will affirm your unscientific beliefs, no one. You will continue to be a troll here as long as anyone pays attention to your amazing ignorance of reality. It is a pity that so many others here still feel that you can be returned to reality – their efforts will likely feed your trollish ego for some time to come. Enjoy that pitiful bit of sympathy as trolls often do. It is my sincere hope that you delete this site from your favorites and go back to sharing your foolish notions with your fellow conspiracy theorists.

    You are a troll. I call Rule 14.

  28. libby says:

    JPZ:

    Here’s quite a good article on internet addiction you might find interesting:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder

    The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery has a good overview of the problem you also might find helpful:

    http://www.addictionrecov.org/Addictions/index.aspx?AID=43

    Good Luck!!

  29. JPZ says:

    Rule 14, troll.

  30. DW says:

    Come on … stop that, both of you :) Libby, consider answering the question. How does it follow that drugs should be regulated, but not supplements and herbs? Why is one an example of the nanny state, and yet the other, clearly you feel “big pharma” needs some oversight. Does the inconsistency bother you?

  31. stanmrak says:

    No one uses more deceptive advertising than the pharmaceutical industry. Lucky for them, they have the FDA on their payroll.

  32. stanmrak says:

    Let me add the term “unethical” to my previous comment as well.

  33. libby says:

    DW:

    Western Gov’ts promote our pharma drug culture. The least they can do is regulate it. Ergo, no inconsistency in the argument.

  34. libby says:

    JPZ:

    Oh no!! Not rule 14. That’s death by asphyxiation, isn’t it? What’s worse is I’m really a big fan of breathing.

  35. Scott says:

    And the likes of Harkin and NCCAM don’t actively promote herbs? Still inconsistent. Also silly, given that safety and fraud are the concerns and aren’t exactly irrelevant regardless of who is making the claims.

  36. Scott says:

    Sorry for the double post – I meant to respond to two but forgot.

    No one uses more deceptive advertising than the pharmaceutical industry. Lucky for them, they have the FDA on their payroll.

    I’d say supplements and herbs are far more deceptive in their advertising. What’s claimed in pharmaceutical ads at least has some basis in fact. Contrastingly, the claims in supplement and herbal ads are largely unsupported by any actual evidence. They say whatever they feel like with effectively no oversight or limitation.

  37. libby says:

    Scott:

    Do you eat at McDonald’s?

  38. libby says:

    stanmrack:

    “No one uses more deceptive advertising than the pharmaceutical industry. Lucky for them, they have the FDA on their payroll.”

    The apologetics defending the malfeasance of the pharma industry is a finely tuned art. This board is only one example.

    To follow the acquiescence of the FDA to corporate pressure, just follow the story of Monsanto’s rBGH, renamed rBST, a substance banned in Britain and Canada, but present in most US meat and milk products.

  39. DW says:

    Libby:

    “Western Gov’ts promote our pharma drug culture. The least they can do is regulate it. Ergo, no inconsistency in the argument.”

    What? Non sequitur.
    I repeat: how do you reconcile the inconsistency in demanding that one be regulated and not the other? What in the world does “Western Government” have to do with it? (keeping your peculiar capitals).

  40. DW says:

    >Do you eat at McDonald’s?

    Whew … the nonsequiturs are mind bending, Libby.
    Why don’t you think through what you are trying to say and say it clearly? I think much of the conflict you get into here results from your poor grammar and poor writing.

    >The apologetics defending the malfeasance of the pharma industry is a finely tuned art. This board is only one example.

    I would like to see where on this board malfeasance of the pharma industry is defended. Can you post a link or a quote?

  41. libby says:

    DW:

    I’d love to respond but JPZ must’ve invoked Rule 14 cause I’m having trouble breathing. Any advice?

  42. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    For the love of Dog, DNFTT. DW, you’ve just seen the best response you’ll ever get.

  43. DW says:

    Okay, sorry, I get that now.

  44. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I am sorry DW. I meant to put a paragraph break between those and as a single line it comes out much, much harsher than I intended. My DNFTT comment was aimed at everyone, the second sentence is a reflection of my experience.

    Again, my apologies.

  45. DW says:

    Nah, don’t worry :)

  46. JPZ says:

    @WLU

    DNFTT – sage advice to everyone. Rule 14 – “Do not feed the Trolls.” Engaging trolls in intelligent dialog only lowers your intelligence. Or, do not debate with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. ;)

  47. libby says:

    Let’s face it, we’re all internet addicts.

    I left the board for about 2 weeks only to come back to the same hand full of addicts spending most of their day on the net trying to sound intelligent to people you don’t know about topics you know even less.

    Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we’re doing anything meaningful with our lives.

  48. DW says:

    Um, no. I refer you again to the page explaining who the writers on this blog are:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/editorial-staff/

    Take a look at their bios. Do they look to you like people who have nothing much to do all day?

  49. JPZ says:

    @stanmrak

    The FDA required Hoffmann-La Roche to use the term “anal leakage” when marketing Orlistat. Trust me – they didn’t want to do that and the FDA was not swayed by lobbying.

  50. libby says:

    DW:

    Denial is a powerful tool.

  51. DW says:

    Yes, I’ve noticed!

  52. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    DW, get used to repeating yourself because you’re not going to see any new arguments (or evidence of reading comprehension). Lots of hipocracy though.

  53. DW says:

    Yeah, I know, sorry again, will try to control myself!

  54. stanmrak says:

    “I’d say supplements and herbs are far more deceptive in their advertising. What’s claimed in pharmaceutical ads at least has some basis in fact.”

    I’ve worked in advertising for 30 years. It’s just as easy to deceive the public using “facts” as it is to make stuff up. In addition, it’s usually more effective. The deception in our world runs so deep, few mortals, including the experts on this site, are aware of it.

  55. stanmrak says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention this…

    A close friend of mine worked as an attorney defending drug companies for a couple of years, so I know how they think and what they do. You don’t want to know, trust me.

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