FTC Warns Web Sites to Stop Making ‘False Claims’ about Dietary Supplements as Bioterrorism Treatments
The Federal Trade Commission yesterday warned approximately 40 Web sites to stop "touting alternative treatments for anthrax or get off the Internet," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Along with the FTC, the California Department of Health Services, the California Attorney General's Office, 30 other state attorneys general and the FDA conducted the online investigation, discovering approximately 200 sites selling "all kinds of bioterror-related products." Several sites offered oregano oil, thyme, zinc mineral water and other dietary supplements as viable therapies for biological threats, including anthrax and smallpox (Kirby, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20). J. Howard Beales, director of consumer protection for the FTC, said, "So far as we know there's no scientific evidence whatsoever that even suggests those kinds of claims might be true." The Washington Post reports that the FTC has e-mailed about 40 sites, calling for them to "remove misleading claims from the Web" (Brubaker, Washington Post, 11/20). The Chronicle reports that those sites that fail to heed the FTC's warning could be fined up to $11,000 per violation (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/20). Beales said, "We're going to follow up. We asked them for a response telling us what they did within seven days. We will look to see how the sites have changed. And if they haven't changed, we'll take law enforcement action" (Washington Post, 11/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.