| FTC and FDA Against Internet Vendors
Fraudulent Diabetes Cures and Treatments
Measures are Part of Coordinated
the United States, Mexico, and Canada
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), working with government agencies in Mexico and Canada,
have launched a drive to stop deceptive Internet advertisements
and sales of products misrepresented as cures or treatments for
diabetes. The ongoing joint campaign has so far included approximately
180 warning letters and other advisories sent to online outlets
in the three countries.
“We will continue working with our partners in the U.S.
and internationally to make sure scammers have no place to hide,”
said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer
Protection. “The Internet can be a great source of information,
but it also is a billboard for ads that promise miracle cures
for diabetes and other serious diseases. Our advice to consumers:
‘Be smart, be skeptical’ when evaluating health claims
“We will not tolerate practices that raise false hopes and
bilk consumers of precious health care dollars, ” said Margaret
O’K. Glavin, FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Regulatory
Affairs. “Diabetes requires effective treatments and aggressive
management, not bogus and unproven products.”
The joint diabetes initiative to stop commercial sale of fraudulent
therapies originated with a Web surf for “hidden traps”
by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network
(ICPEN), an organization of law enforcement authorities, members
of the Mexico, United States, and Canada Health Fraud Working
Group (MUCH), and the attorneys general offices of Alaska, Michigan,
Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. MUCH, which consists of regulatory
officials from health, consumer and competition protection agencies
in the three North American countries, had previously conducted
a campaign against fraudulent weight-loss products.
Using the results of the Internet sweep, FTC sent warning letters
for deceptive ads to 84 domestic and 7 Canadian Web sites targeting
U.S. consumers, and referred an additional 21 sites to other foreign
governments. About a quarter of the firms have already changed
their claims or removed their pages from the Internet, and several
others are in contact with FTC.
Today, FDA announced it has issued warning letters to 24 firms
marketing dietary supplement products with claims to treat, cure,
prevent or mitigate diabetes (see link to Warning Letters at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dialist.html).
The FDA letters warn firms that failure to promptly correct the
violations may result in enforcement action without further notice,
which may include seizure of violative products and/or injunctions
against the manufacturers and distributors.
FTC is also announcing today a new consumer education campaign
to teach consumers how to avoid phony diabetes cures. The materials
encourage consumers to “Be smart, be skeptical!” and
will be available in English, Spanish, and French. One component
is a “teaser” Web site available at http://wemarket4u.net/glucobate/index.html.
At first glance, the site appears to be advertising a cure for
diabetes called Glucobate, but when consumers click for more information
on ordering the product, it reveals information about avoiding
ads for phony cure-alls in the future.
The new education materials, including a bookmark and consumer
alert, are being introduced in time for Diabetes Awareness Month
in November. The American Dietetic Association has agreed to help
disseminate the information.
FDA has developed a strategy to focus its enforcement efforts
in the area of dietary supplements, and today’s announcement
is one important action under that strategy. The strategy was
designed to address illegal dietary supplement ingredients and
ensure integrity and truthful labeling of dietary supplements.
One emphasis is on claims aimed at patients with serious diseases
such as cancer and diabetes. Within the last twelve months, the
agency has sent more than 100 warning letters and other advisories
to Internet firms and has seized products at one firm.
In addition, the agency maintains special Web sites, in English
and Spanish, which amplify the agency’s counsel to consumers
to check with their doctor, nurse or pharmacist before trying
any new health care product. These materials cover a broad range
of subjects of special interest to patients with diabetes... see...
http://www.fda.gov/opacom/lowlit/diabetes.html; and http://www.fda.gov/opacom/lowlit/sdiabetes.html),
as well as more general health care information.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive,
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file
a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available
to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150
consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357),
or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm.
The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other
fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online
database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement
agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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