Marc Ullman, Legal Advisory Council Chairman of the Natural Products Foundation (NPF), met with Richard Cleland of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on December 11, 2012, to present documentation highlighting 26 advertisers responsible for making drug claims on behalf of dietary supplements. The organizations referred to the FTC failed to amend marketing materials after being contacted by the NPF Truth in Advertising program. NPF requested that the regulatory agency take action against all non-compliant companies, including the current Truth in Advertising referrals.
“NPF is now completing its third full year working to rehabilitate industry advertising,” noted Mr. Ullman. “We are extremely gratified by the continued interest and feedback we have received from both the FTC and the FDA regarding the Truth in Advertising initiatives. As our program progresses, the companies we are reaching out to have become increasingly receptive to our message.”
Truth in Advertising works to educate publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to help ensure that the information presented to consumers concerning dietary supplements is truthful and not misleading. In 2012, NPF mailed 100 warning letters to companies marketing dietary supplements with illegal drug and disease claims. Over the course of the program, two-thirds of all advertisers contacted by NPF have brought their promotions into compliance.
“With guidance, advertisers often correct their materials and move on without issue. Most are grateful for the educational resources and advice NPF provides, and quick to make their promotions right,” stated Ullman. “Most ‘warning letter’ cases result in positive action and improved practices; however, when companies are unwilling or unable to bring advertising into compliance after they’ve been notified of a problem, then the only option left is regulatory action. It’s important for responsible industry to sit down with regulators like Rich Cleland to discuss the trends we’re seeing in the field as part of our self-regulatory initiative and to work through individually detailed case histories.”
“NPF aims to improve the overall standard of supplement advertising,” stated David Brown, Chairman of the NPF Board of Directors. “Working with federal regulators to minimize bad actors and eliminate egregious and non-compliant advertisers is a positive step forward. Truth in Advertising is at the forefront of industry education, alerting companies to illegal drug claims and irresponsible marketing practices. We continue our industry outreach knowing the absolute importance of honest advertising for both the well-being of consumers and the sustained integrity of all natural products.”
Since 2010, NPF has initiated more than 300 advertising case reviews and mailed 235 warning letters to companies responsible for marketing dietary supplements. During this period, NPF has referred a total of 73 cases to representatives from the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further action.
The Truth in Advertising Review is overseen by the NPF Legal Advisory Council (LAC). The LAC is composed of attorneys who volunteer their time to help improve the dietary supplement industry’s advertising practices. Current council members include Mr. Ullman of Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, Jackie Kuler of Gronek & Associates, Nicholas Licato of Nexgen Pharma, and Jim Prochnow and Justin Prochnow of Greenberg Traurig.