Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feds files complaint against POM Wonderful.

The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint that challenges the company's statements that pomegranate can prevent and treat everything from heart disease to erectile dysfunction.

The agency called the claims -- found in advertisements in print publications and on the Internet -- "false and unsubstantiated" and based on flawed medical research.

In a story this March, the Chicago Tribune named POM Wonderful as one of several products on the market that made health claims in its advertising that are permissible only for FDA-approved drugs.

The FTC is asking a judge to issue an order that would require the company to stop making claims that pomegranate products can cure, prevent or treat any disease unless the claims are first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Among the advertising claims the FTC is challenging are that the product has "super health powers," that drinking an 8 ounce glass of POM Wonderful slows the rate of prostate cancer, that the juice can treat erectile dysfunction and that it has been proven reduce arterial plaque by 30 percent.

The administrative complaint does not mean the company has violated the law, the FTC said. A hearing has been scheduled for eight months from now before an administrative law judge.

Steve - this is a very complex issue. DSHEA is very specific about what you can and cannot say in directly promoting the benefits of your product. Just because POM has invested tens of millions of research into the health effects of their product does not mean they can promote that research legally. The supplement industry recently won a huge lawsuit against the FTC on this very issue. However, unless the DSHEA law is modified, these will only be individual victories.

Unfortunately, I think things are going to get worse, not better. The European Union has basically eradicated the individual's right to choose their own natural products/supplements to the point where they are basically classified as drugs. Many in Congress want to see this happen in the US.

In our opinion, the benefits of pomegranate are not up for debate. Independent research outside of the POM company has confirmed this. That said, there is a huge turf war for market share between the government, Big Pharma, and the natural products industry. Because POM appears to have brazenly gone against the rules of DSHEA in the eyes of the FTC, they are a ripe target.

Note that POM is also suing the FTC. To be continued...

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