Kamis, 05 Agustus 2010

Dietary Supplements Deceptive Sales Practices

Dietary supplements are regulated as food products, not as drugs. Manufacturers are free to make vague claims of effectiveness, such as “improves heart health” or “boosts brain function”, but they cannot make medical claims such as “lowers high blood pressure” or “prevents Alzheimer’s”. And although their products are supposed to be safe, they’re not required to submit any data to prove it.

Now a Senate document reveals that even though the products may be labelled correctly, in sales conversations (“off-label”, so to speak) retail sales representatives of dietary supplements products are openly engaging in “deceptive and questionable sales tactics” – in other words, they’re lying to make a sale.

In testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that it had staff members ask questions of sales representatives such as: Is ginkgo biloba safe to take with aspirin? Can ginseng cure cancer? Is it okay to replace my blood pressure medication with garlic supplements? All too often they got “yes” answers when the correct answers are “no”. These answers are not just harmless sales advice – they are potentially dangerous advice and they are against the law. Action may be taken against some sellers as a result of the investigation. But for all practical purposes, it’s still “buyer beware” when it comes to the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements.

You can hear clips of some of the undercover calls at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-662T.

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