Marc Ullman, Legal Advisory Council Chairman of the Natural Products Foundation (NPF), met with Richard Cleland of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on December 19, 2011, to present documentation regarding 22 non-compliant dietary supplement advertisers. 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 those companies.
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 2011, NPF mailed 85 warning letters to companies marketing dietary supplements with drug and disease claims. The majority of advertisers contacted through the Truth in Advertising program have brought their promotions into compliance. During the past year, NPF referred a total of 35 cases to representatives from the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further action.
“We are, as always, grateful for the interest that the FTC and the FDA have taken in our self-regulatory initiative,” Ullman noted. “Any time that a senior representative of the FTC is willing to take time out of their incredibly busy schedule to review the work that we are doing within the TIA program, we are getting the kind of feedback that underscores how important self-regulation is in today’s regulatory climate. Every dietary supplement marketer should understand that compliance needs to be part of their corporate culture and that this is a critical aspect of maintaining our industry’s credibility in the eyes of all consumers.”
The Truth in Advertising review process is a proactive effort targeting non-compliant dietary supplement ads. Reviews specifically investigate advertisements that claim to treat or mitigate disease. The companies responsible for these ads are contacted and informed as to how their marketing materials are illegal. Most companies promptly bring their promotional materials into compliance. When they refuse or fail to amend their practices, NPF passes the information to the FDA and the FTC.
The review process is initiated by foundation staff members under the supervision of the NPF Legal Advisory Council. The current Legal Advisory Council members are Mr. Ullman (Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman), Jackie Kuler (Gronek & Associates), and Nicholas Licato (Nexgen Pharma). The program is overseen by Mr. Ullman and NPF Executive Director Deb Knowles.
“The goal is a level playing field for the responsible core of the industry,” said Ms. Knowles. “We are working to make sure that fringe companies do not mislead consumers. Unreliable and false advertisements about supplements are detrimental to everyone in the industry.”
The latest referrals to the FTC follow a recent meeting between the NPF Board of Directors and Dr. Daniel Fabricant, director of the FDA Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, which focused on the continuing role NPF may play in industry education.
“The information about FDA’s dietary supplement program priorities and initiatives that Dr. Fabricant was able to share with the board will be of great assistance in helping us make our programs even more effective,” said Mr. Ullman.
NPF provides educational information and resources for advertisers online to assist companies in need of guidance. For additional information about Truth in Advertising, please visit: naturalproductsfoundatiThe Natural Products Foundation is chartered as a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, and the mission of the organization is to promote and facilitate research and education related to natural products for the benefit of consumers and industry. For more information visit NPF online: naturalproductsfoundation.org.