ACTION ALERT! — FDA Now Censoring Consumer Free Speech on the Internet

Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Big Pharma, CDC & FDA, Censorship with 1 Comment

censorship(Alliance for Natural Health) Or, to be more precise, demanding that supplement companies do it on their orders. Action Alert!

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently issued warning letters to two different supplement companies. Here is what triggered one of them: supplement company AMARC Enterprises “liked” a Facebook customer testimonial about how their product helped “keep cancer at bay.” FDA says this means AMARC made a disease claim. Note that the customer did not even say that the product cured cancer, just that it helped keep the customer free of cancer.

Regardless of what the comment was, are companies now responsible for customer comments on social media pages, an increasingly important form of communication and interaction between companies and the public? If a company stops allowing customer comments that might get it in hot water with the FDA, then the agency has censored consumer speech.

Here is what triggered another FDA letter to a supplement company: on the website for M.D.R. Fitness Corp., if one types disease terms into the search box, one sees information about specific products. FDA claims this constitutes an “implied” disease claim.

This goes too far. It means that even a sentence such as, “Living in a healthy way can help avoid cancer or heart attacks,” will be disallowed. Certain words will be absolutely forbidden. This is a very slippery slope. Once this line is crossed, how far will the FDA go?

What is behind all this craziness? Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), a drug is defined as a product “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals.” FDA regulates health claims made on product labels (including supplement labels). Under this “intended use” doctrine, the FDA can conclude that a product is a “drug” based solely on a company’s promotional claims or, as with last year’s federal appeals court case of US v. Caronia, statements made by an advertiser or promoter.

For example, garlic becomes an illegal drug if an advertiser claims that the product will cure food poisoning, even though this is verifiably true. Similarly, manuka honey becomes an illegal drug if a seller mentions that it will stop skin infections (also verifiably true, as even the New York Times has reported). There are many, many such examples.

The “intended use” doctrine can also magically change many non-traditional products into drugs or medical devices. For example, last year the FDA said the agency would likely regulate medical mobile apps on smart phones and tablets because they essentially transform a device into a regulated medical device. Developers of the apps would not be considered medical device makers unless they were marketing the product as being intended for medical uses—not unlike FDA’s approach to supplements. Now Congress is concerned about whether manufacturers of such apps will be subject to excise taxes under the Affordable Care Act.

FDA’s new warnings seem to defy the judge’s decision in US v. Caronia which, as we noted in December, mostly underscored protections of free commercial speech. FDA is using a very broad interpretation of what constitutes a disease claim, explicit or especially implied. As any Facebook user realizes, a “like” may simply be a passive acknowledgement of someone’s comment; surely it is a stretch to consider any comment that even mentions cancer to be a disease claim!

It is notable that FDA decided not to appeal the US v. Caronia ruling because the agency “does not believe that the Caronia decision will significantly affect the agency’s enforcement of the drug misbranding provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” With these latest warning letters, they’re certainly acting as if the Caronia ruling never happened.

They may, however, be a little worried. The agency buried the above warnings amid a list of other alleged infractions. The agency seems to be trying to expand its Internet regulatory reach in a piecemeal under-the-radar fashion. We need to let them know we are noticing. We also need to pass the Free Speech About Science Act.

Action Alert! Tell the FDA to stop trying to censor consumer free speech and Internet searches! Let the agency know it has gone too far. Send your message today!

Take Action

Tags: , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

1 Reader Comment

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1.' Henry says:

    Ever wonder why a cure can not be claimed outside the FDA? Because disease is the intellectual property of the FDA, and they don’t want anyone to mess with their property.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the stories on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use' must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.

Send this to friend