FDA Issues Warning Letters to 7 Dietary Supplement Companies for Drug Claims
On November 17, 2022, FDA posted warning letters to 7 companies for selling different dietary supplements with claims that caused the products to be “drugs” in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Under the FD&C Act, products intended to diagnose, cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent disease are drugs and are subject to the requirements that apply to drugs, even if they are labeled as dietary supplements.
The claims were found on the 7 companies’ websites, social media pages, and/or Amazon or Walmart storefronts, and included a variety of statements regarding the products’ claimed abilities to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent cardiovascular disease (or related conditions, such as atherosclerosis, stroke, or heart failure). Six of the companies at issue sell a product(s) containing one or more dietary ingredients identified as Vitamin B3, red yeast rice, pine bark extract, EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, bergamot, Hawthorn berry, Hawthorn extract, Coleus forskohlii, hops, taurine, garlic powder, amino sulfonic acid, Co-Q-10, and/or octacosanol. The seventh company does not list a dietary ingredient but identifies its product as a “glycocalyx regenerating product” and notes various “pathologies associated with impaired endothelial glycocalyx.” As noted in the warning letters, FDA has not evaluated whether the unapproved products are effective for their intended use, the proper dosage, potential interaction with FDA-approved drugs or other substances, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns. Further, in addition to characterizing the products as unapproved “new drugs,” FDA’s letters note misbranding charges based on the impossibility of writing adequate directions for a layperson to use the products safely for the intended purpose of treating one more diseases that are not amenable to self-diagnosis or treatment without the supervision of a licensed practitioner.
FDA requested that the companies respond to the warning letters within 15 working days and describe how they will address the issues, or provide reasoning and substantiation as to why they believe the products are not in violation of the law. Failure to adequately address could result in legal action, such as product seizure and/or injunction.
Lauren Haas, Nicholas Prust, Frederick Stearns, and Emily Thomas also contributed to this article.