Libel suit against supplement critic fails

Posted 31 January 2017

Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has successfully defended against a suit brought against him by Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals.

In 2015, the journal Drug Testing and Analysis published an article, “An amphetamine isomer whose efficacy and safety in humans has never been studied, β-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA), is found in multiple dietary supplements,” which was co-authored by Cohen and three colleagues.

Not long afterward, the FDA issued warning letters to Hi-Tech and other manufacturers whose products contained BMPEA. [Recent FDA action on dietary supplements labeled as containing BMPEA. FDA Web site, April 27, 2015]

Hi-Tech’s lawsuit charged that the article and subsequent public comments by Cohen included false and defamatory statements about the safety of Hi-Tech products that contain BMPEA.

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MCC: Two new sets of regulations

Posted 31 January 2017

The Minister of Health has published two sets of regulations on 27 January 2017

  1. General Regulations to the Medicines and Related Substances Act (GoN 50, GG. 40577, 27 January 2017), for comment by 27 February 20167 according to the web site, but within 3 months according to the text –

This is a comprehensive set of proposed regulations to accompany the launch of SAHPRA and allow for the promulgation of the 2008 and 2015 Amendment Acts. The ToC is as follows (and includes 25A. Sub -categories of complementary medicines):

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South African Quackery and Pseudoscience Conference

Posted 30 January 2017

Preliminary program posted

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In the UK Herbex removes its claims; in SA, Herbex takes the ASA to court

Posted o4 January 2017

In June 2016, a complaint was lodged with the UK Advertising Standards Authority against website claims being made by Herbex in the UK. The claims were that Herbex is a herbal drink that “boosts metabolism, increases energy and controls appetite”. It is likely that, as in South Africa, the UK ASA was provided with evidence based on the botanical substances (ingredients) contained in the product. Herbex then agreed (after negotiation?) to withdraw the claims. This has now been done. The complaint is listed on the UK ASA’s website under “informally resolved cases” at: (scroll down to Herbex (PTY) Ltd). The list is prefaced with the following statement: “After consideration by the [UK] ASA of complaints received, the following companies and organisations agreed to amend or withdraw advertising without the need for a formal ruling.”

In South Africa, Herbex was ruled against by the Final Appeal … Read the rest

Placebo Beats Supplements for Arthritis Pain

Posted 27 January 2017

New York Times

Nicholas Bakalar Jan. 26, 2017

Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for arthritis pain, but a controlled trial has found no evidence that the combination works. In fact, in this study, the placebo worked better.

Spanish researchers randomized 164 men and women with knee osteoarthritis to take a single daily dose of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 of chondroitin, or an identical looking placebo. The study is in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The researchers used a scale that shows 10 faces with increasingly pained expressions and asks patients to say which picture matches their degree of pain. People who took the medicines had a 19 percent reduction in pain scores after six months on the regimen. But those who took the placebo had a 33 percent reduction.

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Not all supplements are a scam

Posted 17 January 2017

Experts just released another report urging all young women to take this daily supplement

Whether it’s antioxidants, multivitamins, probiotics, or good old Vitamin C, the sad truth is that most supplements and vitamins you see on your supermarket shelves are useless – and could even be dangerous for your health.

But there’s one big exception when it comes to women who are thinking about getting pregnant at some stage in their lives – folic acid, which is one of the rare supplements that actually has some really strong scientific backing.

According to a new report from the US Preventive Services Task Force – an independent, volunteer-driven panel of health experts – anyone who is capable of getting pregnant should be taking folic acid supplements daily, even if you’re not planning on getting pregnant in the near future.

Continue reading at Science Alert

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Prevagen: FTC and New York State Attorney General action

Posted 16 January 2017

Prevagen, which claims to “improve memory”, is available in South Africa:

Imported by Zenith Biomedical, it is also sold through

We have previously pointed out that a class action suit has been launched against the American manufacturers. Now the USA Federal Trade Commission and New York State Attorney General has stepped in.

The Federal Trade Commission and New York State Attorney General have charged the marketers of the dietary supplement Prevagen with making false and unsubstantiated claims that the product improves memory, provides cognitive benefits, and is “clinically shown” to work.
[FTC, New York State charge the marketers of Prevagen with making deceptive memory, cognitive Improvement claims: Widely advertised supplement touted to improve memory in 90 days. FTC news release, Jan 9, 2017]

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The detox scam

Posted 05 January 2017

An excellent article published on Science Based Medicine explaining why ‘detoxing’ is a scam.

[quote]It seems about once a year we remind our readers that detox is a scam. The basic idea is that modern life results in the accumulation of “toxins” in your body, and every now and then you should have a tune up by flushing those toxins out. The specific toxins are never mentioned. There is also no basic science reason or clinical evidence to support the notion that the methods recommended actually remove any specific toxins from the body.[/quote] [quote]The term “detox,” however, has been hijacked for clever marketing of worthless products and treatments. Like much of what happens under the umbrella of so-called alternative medicine, a successful marketing slogan is more important than science or evidence. “Detox” is now frequently attached to many dubious treatments as a handwaving explanation for… Read the rest


Posted 05 January 2017

The latest advertising craze appears to be claiming that drinking/eating a collagen supplement, will improve a range of aspects of your body, in particular wrinkles.

The UK ASA received a complaint against one similar product: “A poster for Gold Collagen, seen on 7 January, which stated “More and more women are waking up to GOLD COLLAGEN what about you? Younger-looking skin Healthier hair Stronger nails”. A footnote stated “*Based on UK clinical trials on 108 voluteers [sic] taking PURE GOLD COLLAGEN daily (Double Blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial). Results published in leading medical journals. Includes vitamin C which contributes to normal collagen formation and the normal function of cartilage and skin. Includes zinc which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin, hair and nails. Includes biotin, which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and normal hair”.

A complainant challenged whether the following claims breached Read the rest