NPF Alerts FDA and FTC to Advertisers Making Illegal Drug and Disease Claims
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Majority of Advertisers Contacted by NPF Truth in Advertising Program Now Compliant

Natural Products Foundation (NPF) representatives met with Richard Cleland of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with Gary Coody and others of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 20th to present documentation regarding 13 non-compliant advertisers who have failed to amend their marketing materials after being contacted by NPF’s Truth in Advertising program.  NPF requested that the regulatory agencies take action against those companies.

Marc Ullman, of Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman LLC, NPF Legal Advisory Council Chairman, led the meetings.  He was joined by NPF President John Gay and NPF board member David Brown, CEO of LifeVantage Corporation.  The meetings focused on the recent progress of NPF Truth in Advertising efforts.  Over the past 12 months, the Truth in Advertising initiative has mailed 77 warning letters to companies marketing dietary supplements making drug and disease claims.  A large majority of advertisers contacted under the Truth in Advertising program have brought their language into compliance.

“We had exceptionally good meetings with both FDA and FTC,” Ullman reported. “Both agencies expressed their appreciation for the Foundation’s efforts and underscored the importance of our self-regulatory initiative.  Significantly, both agencies advised us that they would review the material we provided relating to non-compliant advertisers who had either failed to respond or otherwise make sustentative efforts to come into compliance following receipt of our TIA `warning letters.’ ”

The Truth in Advertising Program 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.  The Truth in Advertising review process targets non-compliant dietary supplement ads 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.  The majority of the time those companies bring their promotional materials into compliance.  When they refuse or fail to amend their practices, NPF passes the information to FDA and FTC.

NPF staff continues to monitor the advertisements of companies who have made drug and disease claims in the past.  One of the companies referred to the regulatory agencies had briefly amended their ad materials after contact from the Truth in Advertising program, and then reverted to making non-compliant drug claims.

“The goal is a level playing field for the responsible core of the industry, as well as making sure fringe companies aren’t misleading consumers,” said NPF Executive Director Deb Knowles.

The Truth in Advertising review process is initiated by NPF 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, Chicago), and Nicholas Licato (Nexgen Pharma, General Counsel).

NPF Truth in Advertising efforts addressed 60 individual advertising cases in 2010.  In 50 of the cases, the organizations responsible for the advertisements received explicit warning letters from NPF.  During the 2010 Truth in Advertising campaign, NPF notified the FTC of 12 companies who were out of compliance and unwilling to amend their practices.

The Natural Products Foundation is chartered as a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) Corporation.  The mission of NPF is to promote and facilitate research and education related to natural products for the benefit of consumers and industry.  For more information please visit


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