Spiritual guru and Oprah BFF Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, says, “now is all there ever is; there is no … future except as … anticipation in your mind.” What a relief! That means I can get rid of all of my dreadful “anticipatory” thoughts about the kind of country we might have tomorrow and instead focus on dietary supplements! Quite the mental detour.
You know Herbalife, right? It's that "global nutrition and weight management" company, which “recruits individuals as distributors who sell its products to friends, family, and other consumers.” This pyramid-scheme sounding business model led the company this week to agree to pay $15 million to settle a class-action lawsuit for, well, running a pyramid scheme. Writes Slate,
The allegation that Herbalife (founded in 1980) is a pyramid scheme is not limited to this case. An Federal Trade Commission investigation of the company is ongoing (Herbalife just hired a former FTC official to run its legal compliance operations), as is a public relations campaign by hedge funder Bill Ackman, who has said he's shorted the company's stock because he believes its sales system involves several scams. …
One irony in all of this, of course, is that even if there are millions of Herbalife fans paying for and using the company's "Cell Activators" and "Male Factor 1000" pills, those people might just be paying for the placebo effect. As a manufacturer of supplements, Herbalife's products are not required to undergo Food and Drug Administration–regulated clinical trials, and are sold with the warning that they are not intended to “treat, prevent, or cure disease.”
The failure of the FDA to protect supplement consumers speaks loudly for the need for class actions, but unfortunately the lack of regulation in this area also means that cases can get easily tossed. For example, also this week, “a federal judge dismissed a proposed class action against SanMedica International for its so-called human growth hormone booster” which the plaintiffs bought “after seeing ads for its 'SeroVital' product on the Dr. Oz show and in Shape magazine.”
Even though SanMedica made all kinds of crazy claims, the judges granted SanMedica's motion to dismiss (with leave to amend by Dec. 1.)
Notes Courthouse News, “Diet supplements, as opposed to drugs, are virtually unregulated in the United States, unless consumers can show they contain regulated drugs. Congress has refused to regulate them.”
But perhaps there’s hope on the horizon! Writes The Hill today,
The Food and Drug Administration is moving forward with new recommendations to the manufacturers of dietary supplements that have drawn increasing scrutiny for their miracle weight loss claims.
The FDA already prohibits pharmaceutical companies from making misleading claims about their dietary supplements. To help manufacturers comply with these rules, the agency has issued voluntary guidelines for companies making dietary supplement claims.
The FDA on Monday requested public comment on the guidelines.…
This comes as Dr. Mehmet Oz, who hosts "The Dr. Oz show," has been under pressure from federal regulators and members of Congress for endorsing dietary supplements that make controversial weight loss claims, despite what critics say is a lack of definitive scientific evidence.
The public has 60 days to comment on the new guidelines.
Besides voting, do that today. No use sitting around worrying.