NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulators Issue Vitamin Guidelines

November 18, 1998

Federal regulators will announce guidelines today for advertising vitamins, herbal products and dietary supplements. The Federal Trade Commission will require proof that products do what is claimed in advertising. Since a 1994 law removed some Food and Drug Administration control over vitamins and supplements, the FTC has moved to take over regulatory oversight of the industry.

  • About 100 million consumers use such supplements as St. John's Wort and Gingko Biloba.
  • Advertising for the products is up more than 30 percent from 1997.
  • Since 1994 the FTC has gone after supplement makers 34 times for misleading ads -- up from just 26 cases in the previous 12 years.

Supplement companies say the guidelines still give the FTC a lot of discretion, but that it has never been clear how much substantiation is needed.

Source: Jayne O'Donnell, "Government to Set Guidelines for Dietary Supplement Ads," USA Today, November 18, 1998.


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