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logo1cAre government regulators surfing the internet in their spare time looking for supplement makers and marketers violating federal advertising and labeling laws? The answer is yes.

Warning letters went out last week simultaneoulsy from the FTC and FDA. The FTC and FDA respectively announced its actions in seperate press releases entitled FTC Warns Web Sites Peddling Hormone Replacement, and FDA Issues Warning Letters to Marketers of Unapproved ‘Alternative Hormone Therapies’.

It appears these letters were issued sua sponte and were not the result of any consumer complaints. As the FTC release stated:

The Web sites were identified during an FTC Internet surf of sites making claims that their hormone replacement therapy alternative products – for example, progesterone creams, sprays or dietary supplements containing plant-based hormones – could cure diseases or prevent them. The letters note that the FTC staff is not aware of any competent and reliable scientific evidence to support claims that the types of products advertised could prevent, treat, or cure cancer, heart disease, or other diseases, prevent osteoporosis, or increase bone density. They also emphasize that according to FTC case law, all health claims – including claims about the safety of natural hormones – must be supported by reliable scientific evidence.

The FTC appears to have passed on the results of its “surf” to the FDA and both agencies coordinated the action described in the press releases. The press release links above take you to pages that contain further links to either sample letters or the actual letters sent to the supplement makers in this matter. The letters require a response from those who receive them, and if past cases are any guide you should expect enforcement action to come against any recipients of such letters who do not agree to remove the supplements and the challenged claims promptly.


Joel B. Rothman represents clients in intellectual property infringement litigation involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, defamation, trade libel, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and commercial matters. Joel’s litigation practice also includes significant focus on electronic discovery issues such as e-discovery management and motion practice relating to e-discovery.