The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a division of the federal government that works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices. This includes product labeling and claims. Unfortunately, they have their work cut out for them when it comes to the dietary supplement industry and in December 2022, the FTC released its new Health Products Guidance document (essentially, the do’s and don’ts when it comes to labeling). On April 13, 2023, the FTC issued nearly 700 notices of penalty offenses to leading companies involved in the marketing of Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs, homeopathic products, dietary supplements and functional foods. The reason? Unsubstantiated claims around health or safety benefits or claims and the misuse of endorsements and testimonials. Want to see who’s on the list?
So what does this mean for the dietary supplement industry? No one knows for sure, but a few things are clear.
- You can absolutely expect to see significant changes when it comes to dietary supplement labels and advertising. These FTC nasty grams are definitely not a veiled threat. If the brands that received the notice of penalty offenses fail to have adequate support for their advertising claims, they will receive stiff civil penalties as promised by the FTC. What’s the anticipated damage for not complying? A staggering $50,120 per violation for a company that continues to conduct itself in a manner that was found to be unlawful in a previous FTC administrative order. So consider the FTC notice to these brands as both a threat of action as well as a promise.
- You can expect to see more clinical trial opportunities coming your way! The unfortunate reality is that there are a handful of high quality and effective supplements in a sea of very average supplements. The high-performing brands want to make sure to stand out in the crowd, prove their efficacy and difference, and make sure that they have the science and the claims to prove it. That means that Radicle Science will need more help from consumers like you looking to make a difference.
While all the ripple effects of the new FTC Health Products Guidance document remain to be seen, the FTC is disrupting the dietary supplement labeling status quo and that’s a good thing.