GNC to Strengthen Supplement Quality Controls

Posted 31 March 2015

We previously reported on the New York Attorney sending letters ordering GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens to stop selling store-brand herbal products that could not be verified to contain the labeled substance(s), or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on their labels.

Here is a follow on story that reports that GNC has agreed to institute sweeping new testing procedures that far exceed quality controls mandated under federal law.

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New York Attorney General targets herbal marketers

Posted 09 February 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has sent letters ordering GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens to stop selling store-brand herbal products that could not be verified to contain the labeled substance(s), or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on their labels. The products included echinacea, ginseng, and St. John’s wort. The letters were sent because DNA tests performed as part of the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation found that only 21% of the products contained ingredients listed on their labels. Quackwatch has more details plus links to the warning letters. The investigation was triggered by a New York Times report about a Canadian study which found widespread discrepancies between the ingredients listed on the labels of 44 popular products and those found in the products.

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Clicks/GNC in the poo?

Posted 06 February 2015

Clicks launched the supplement range, GNC, in SA last March AFTER new CAM regulations were published, regulations which in essence made these products illegal. Makes you wonder about the scruples and ethics of the company and its directors.

On Monday, 2nd February 2015, New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman ordered GNC, Walmart, Target and Walgreens to stop selling some of their brands after tests found only one in five products contained the herbs on their labels, and that most of them contained cheap fillers such as powdered rice.

Of course, GNC (and Clicks), stand by this range of products: ““GNC stands by the efficacy of its products. It has removed them in New York but not elsewhere,” Mr Kristafor said at Clicks’ head office in Woodstock.”

One vital aspect not addressed by anyone is this simple facts: there is little to no evidence to back … Read the rest

Clicks – “Adrenal Fatigue” – ASA ruling

Posted 11 May 2012

Professor F Bonnici (one of South Africa’s best endocrinologists) lodged a consumer complaint against a pamphlet available at the Clicks Pharmacy. The pamphlet contains information about “Adrenal Fatigue”.    Professor Bonnici submitted that the pamphlet misinforms the public about a condition that is not recognised by any health authority in the world. While there are well defined adrenal disorders, “Adrenal Fatigue” is not one of them. He added that he has encountered incidents where people insisted on consulting him in his practice as a specialist endocrinologist, based on the information conveyed in the pamphlet and the resulting self-diagnosis made. While the “treatment” recommended in the advertising is harmless, unrelated to adrenal gland function and ineffective, the fact remains that the information conveyed is untrue and potentially harmful.

Clicks submitted that it has removed all pamphlets related to this subject matter from its clinics, “without any admission of Read the rest

Clicks Slim Drops Herbal Tincture: ASA ruling

Posted 27 October 2011

This ruling is interesting for it brings up the issue of "scientific substantiation", "conflict of interest*", "recusal", and "a pharmacist's ethics" very clearly. 

I find it unfathomable and unconscionable that Ms Allison Vienings has yet again attempted to substantiate a highly dubious product (albeit unsuccessfully) on an ingredients basis and not "whole product" basis. 

Allison Vienings is a paid-up registered pharmacist with the SA Pharmacy Council and the Executive Director of the SMASA (Self Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa). 

Although Clicks is not a member of SMASA, other companies selling similar unsubstantiated medicines, e.g., Dischem, are. Therefore this can be seen as a conflict  of interest. Should she not, ethically, have recused herself and not have accepted the "assignment" from Clicks to substantiate the product? Should she not at least have notified the ASA of a possible conflict of interest? Read the rest

Clicks Apple Cider With Green Tea: ASA ruling

Posted 27 October 2011

A consumer laid a complaint against packaging for Clicks’ Apple Cider with Green Tea. The packaging seen from the front promotes the product as “Weight Loss Support” and claims that it: “Helps to: • Promote energy levels to assist fat break down • Increase antioxidant levels”. In essence, the complainant submitted that the claims made on its packaging are misleading as there is no evidence in terms of the Code that the claims are true or possible. The complainant also searched the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database (a source often used by practitioners of complementary medicine) but found nothing to show that the ingredients in the combination used have the claimed effects.

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Clicks Hoodia Appetite Regulator

Posted 29 August 2011

Although this ruling is in my favour, it raises a few very pertinent aspects. 

The substantiator is "Ms Allison Vienings from MRA Regulatory Consultants, an independent regulatory consultancy". "It added that Ms Vienings is a credible expert in the field of complementary medicine." "She added that sufficient documented evidence exists for the acceptance of the traditional use of hoodia as an appetite suppressor to claim that the product will suppress the appetite, thus resulting in a feeling of satiety which will prevent over eating and food cravings. Emphasis was placed on the fact that these claims should be (and in this instance are) made along with the statement 'Only effective when used in conjunction with a restricted or kilojoule controlled balanced diet'."  

I have 6 major points to raise regarding this substantiation:

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