This is and has been an on-going battle, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has upped the ante and we are all at risk of losing some of the products and even services we depend on to improve our health and recover from illness.
Let us hope that the FTC gets finally put in its place and something is preserved of our rights.
It was last fall that the FTC launched an attack against POM Wonderful, a California based pomegranate juice company. They had been making legitimate, scientifically-backed claims concerning the health benefits of pomegranates and pomegranate juice.
This week, Michael Chappell, an administrative law judge will preside over the first hearings in this case. It will be at that time that an important precedent will be set. A precedent that will set the freedom of health speech in our country and affect every single one of us.
The case against POM by the FTC began because the company was citing various scientific studies and had made numerous health claims on its website and in its advertising material.
Claims like pomegranates help to remediate prostate cancer, prevent heart disease, treat impotence, and others.
The FTC claimed that all these statements were "false advertising" claims. This was in spite of the fact that all the statements were backed up by credible scientific studies. Apparently the FTC does not think that matters and only their opinion does.
Previously, it was OK for companies to use claims based on "competent and reliable scientific evidence" and that was exactly what POM had done with its information.
Now the FTC has changed its tune and says it is going to require two "well-controlled" clinical trials per health claim in order for it to be legally made by a company.
Frankly this is simply absurd. The FTC is NOT the FDA and does not have the same authority or even mission.
Also, having a clinical trial would not make the claims any more or less valid. As most of you know, studies can be good or not so good depending on so many factors.
The more reliable judge of the effectiveness of a product is actually what happens in the marketplace when people actually begin to use the product and report back their stories.
Just how does the FTC think all the herbs and such that were used for thousands of years by healers got to be known as to what they would and would not do and how they worked?
Very simply, people used them, noted the response of their patients, recorded the results and passed on their findings to others.
Now they may not have as in-depth an understanding of the ways compounds work in our bodies as we do today, but they certainly had a pretty good handle on how to fix a lot of problems that our modern drugs still do not address for all our "science".
But this is a discussion for another article or series of articles.
The FTC is vastly overstepping its bounds by trying to enforce restrictions that are in violation of both the U.S. Constitution, and the precedent set in the case of Person v. Shalala, according to food law attorney Jonathan Emord. In that case the FDA could NOT restrict health claims made alongside appropriate qualifying statements unless the agency could prove there was a given qualifying statement was misleading.
In other words, the burden of proof was placed on the FDA to prove its case that the "claim" was false before it could legally restrict that claim from being used. This is a much more appropriate and constitutional regulatory protocol and one that makes a great deal more sense.
This gives everyone the right to put out the creditably valid information and do so until the FDA can demonstrate that the claims are indeed false. This is the very same principal that is a foundation of our law. That you are innocent until proven guilty.
The way the FTC wants it and the FDA too, is that you are guilty of whatever they decide is not true or does not have sufficient documentation on or literally whatever. And it is up to you to prove otherwise with huge expenses for unnecessary studies, lawyers, court cases and more simply to prove that your product does what it says.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not at all saying that we do not need to have some regulation. There are plenty of unscrupulous operators out their that will put out anything and make a quick buck. But does the FDA actually keep us from having a product that is shown to be harmful even after the required "studies" have been done?
The answer to that is NO! There are approximately 25 % of drugs that are "recalled" from the market place and every one of them had the required FDA studies that showed them to be safe and of benifit.
Well then, if these studies were so accurate FDA, then how do you explain the fact that so very many of them are removed from the market after they have done untold harm to thousands of people? Interestingly the FDA has never said much about that question. Anyone want to theorize as to why?
Emord further said:
"If the FTC prevails, this case will establish a very speech restrictive precedent. This is an end-run around the Constitution and a deplorable move by the FTC. The FTC is presuming to apply FDA standars not applicable to advertising. FTC says that it is doing so as a ‘proxy’ for its own deceptive advertising review, but that is a leap of faith, beyond the limits of its statutory authority."
And there is the REAL PROBLEM with any of the government agencies we have. Our congress passes a law to attempt to do some good (ok I’m giving Congress the benefit here to make a point) and then the Agency Congress has given the task of implementing this law must find a way to do that.
While on the surface that seems like a good way. The reality is that it is a terrible way to do things. The agency is free to create "administrative regulations" that are in effect the "law of the land" that are supposed to tell everyone what to do to implement the law that Congress has passed.
The problem enters in to all of this because there is no oversight of any kind on these agencies and they are free to make any regulation they deem necessary to implement the law. And they can change, add to or whatever to these administrative regulations at any time for any reason. Again all done with no oversight by anyone.
Hence you get the FDA, and the FTC, and yes even the IRS making up all sorts of rules and regulations that very often have nothing at all to do with the actual "intent" of the law passed by Congress. And the longer a government agency is around, the more regulations they create, and the further they go from the law.
Does this sound like the way it needs to be? I hope you said no, but that is the way things are done and we really do have to change them
Very soon, if we all sit around and pay no attention, none of the health products we use, the vitamins we like, the natural treatments we depend on will exist any longer.
Some may survive, but they will be controlled by the Big Pharma and will be so watered down as to be virtually useless insofar as using them as any therapy for something that ails us.
Please start paying attention, and when things like this come to your attention, SAY something to your representatives about it. And keep on saying something and expressing your displeasure if they support the wrong bills or fail to take action on ones that are harmful to your health choices.
You do have a choice in what happens – but you have to actually do something and not sit on the couch and watch the game.
It’s is up to all of YOU.