Earlier this week, the FTC and the FDA announced a joint effort to combat unsubstantiated health claims in the supplement space. In three warning letters—to Gold Crown Natural Products, TEK Naturals, and Pure Nootropics, LLC (collectively, the “Companies”)—the agencies explain that certain efficacy claims may lack competent and reliable scientific evidence for support. Specifically, the Companies’ claims pertain to treating Alzheimer’s and remediating or curing other serious illnesses, including Parkinson’s, heart disease, and cancer. The FDA issued the letters the same week it announced an effort to modernize its oversight over dietary supplement products. Taken together, these two actions reinforce that the agency appears to be trying to differentiate participants in the supplement space.

The letters warned that the companies were making drug claims in violation of Section 201(g)(1)(B) of the FD&C Act and unsubstantiated disease claims under Section 12 of the FTC Act. Under the FTC Act, it is unlawful to make health claims that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease without competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate such claims. This standard can also entail a need for well-controlled human clinical studies. With respect to its review of the Companies’ websites and social media accounts, the FTC pointed to a number of exemplary claims that likely require substantiation. However, the FTC made clear that the examples are not exhaustive, urging the Companies to thoroughly review all claims and ensure they have adequate substantiation.

The agencies gave the Companies fifteen days to notify the FTC and FDA of the specific actions the companies will take to address the concerns outlined in the warning letters. Absent curative action, enforcement action is likely. Similar actions against other companies may be in the wings. Stay tuned.