Update: RenAvast Banned by the FDA Due to Illegal Claims

Last year, I wrote about a supplement marketed for dogs and cats with kidney failure, RenAvast. AT the time, the Bottom Line conclusion for this supplement was this:

The ingredients in RenAvast™ are deliberately not disclosed by the company beyond the fact that they are amino acids and some sort of peptide. Therefore, it is impossible to evaluate the plausibility of the proposed mechanisms of action or any preclinical research on these ingredients.

The only data presented for safety and efficacy is a poor quality, small trial with clear and significant risk of bias that is essentially useless as evidence. There are, of course, plenty of testimonials and anecdotes suggesting the product works, but that is true for every therapy ever invented, so either no idea in medicine ever fails, or anecdotes are very reliable.

There is no way to determine at this point if the product is safe or effective. However, the way that it has been marketed shows a clear disregard for both the regulations intended to prevent inappropriate and unproven claims for dietary supplements and the basic principles of medical research. The combination of secrecy and misuse of sloppy science suggests a great deal of skepticism is in order when dealing with this company and its products.

I also pointed out that in 2012, the FDA had warned the company about making illegal claims about the safety and efficacy of the product which had not been proven by appropriate clinical trials. Clearly, as of last year the company was still ignoring the law and defying this warning. Well, the wheels of regulatory enforcement turn slowly, but three years later the FDA has finally taken action against this firm:

On July 10, 2015, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Bio Health Solutions LLC, of Las Vegas and its manager and co-owner, Mark Garrison, for selling RenAvast, an unapproved animal drug.

According to the complaint filed with the consent decree, the defendants have marketed RenAvast to treat diseases, including chronic renal failure, in cats and dogs. It is illegal to market new animal drugs without first requesting FDA pre-market review and obtaining legal marketing status. The FDA pre-market review process evaluates whether products are safe and effective for their intended use, can be consistently manufactured, and are truthfully and completely labeled.

The decree, filed on FDA’s behalf by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, prevents Bio Health Solutions LLC and Garrison from introducing RenAvast and any other unapproved new animal drugs into interstate commerce. The firm would not be able to market the drug unless and until it obtains an approved new animal drug application or meets the requirements for an investigational new animal drug exemption.

“The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s new animal drug approval requirements provide important protections for consumers and their animals,” said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “We believe consumers should be able to trust that the drug products they administer to their pets have been proven to be safe and effective.”

It remains to be seen how the company will respond to this legal injunction, but hopefully this product will be taken off the market until and unless real clinical trial evidence is available to establish any risks or benefits it has. Sadly, that leaves scores of other similar products out there, but it is good to see that at least occasionally the FDA is willing to take action to prevent such flagrant illegal marketing of snake oil to pet owners.

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60 Responses to Update: RenAvast Banned by the FDA Due to Illegal Claims

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for your post. What’s your opinion? Does RenAvast work? Have you seen any cases where it’s been used?

    And what about Azodyl. How is the marketing and sale of that product different?

  2. skeptvet says:

    My opinion is that I don’t know if RenAvast works and neither does anyone else. There is no evidence to base an informed opinion on other than anecdotes and testimonials, which are unreliable. From a theoretical point of view, it seems unlikely that the ingredients the company lists should have the effects they claim, and from a practical point of view if it is the miracle treatment they suggest why haven’t they been able to demonstrate this with any real scientific research?

    For Azodyl, again there is no reason to expect it should work, but it might. However, in that case there are some research studies, and while they are not 100% conclusive, they suggest that it doesn’t work, so at this point it is more likely that it does not have a real benefit than that it does.

  3. Penelope says:

    Good on the FDA for stepping in, at least. A lot of supplements for people have the same issues as this. You could be getting something that works, you could be getting something that doesn’t do anything. It’s kind of a gamble. I wouldn’t want to gamble with my pets’ health, though. RenAvast seems to get good reviews online, at least…

  4. CatMom says:

    I just came across your site while doing research for one of my cats.

    I had a veterinarian “prescribe” renavast a year ago. For almost a whole year she treated my cat’s kidney disease this way. She even went on to say she was doing much better because of it. Just this past weekend my cat passed away.

    We trusted this veterinarian and had we known that this “medication” was not truly helping we would have done more.

    Do you think Renavast was giving Dr’s incentives for pushing it? I am just surprised that she was so persistent. Not to mention that when we asked for a prescription to order it, she said it could only be purchased through her. We have two bottles left of it.

    Thank you in advance for your opinion.

  5. skeptvet says:

    Obviously, I can’t guess at your vet’s motives. I will say that, as you can see from this thread, there are lots of people who passionately believe in this product despite the total absence of any evidence it does anything at all. Some of that is the need to hope and to feel like we are doing something to help our pets, some is the misguided beliefs that our personal experiences can tell us if a medical therapy really works or not, and some of it may well be the fact that we get invested, our ego and our business, in the things we recommend and resist the idea that we may be using a treatment that doesn’t actually work. Motives are tricky things, but there doesn’t necessarily have to be any malign motivation or deliberate deception involved in believing in unproven or quack therapies, since lots of perfectly good and smart people do.

  6. Violet says:

    I had asked my vet about Renavast and she told me she thought it was a scam, and that the company was faxing her every week and trying to get her to sell their product. My vet really researched it too. Of course the vets would make money from it if they were selling it in their practices!! CatMom, I am sorry for your loss and I would look for another vet. I think Skeptvet would agree with me that the best thing for a cat with renal failure is a prescription food diet and fluids. My CRF cat did well on this and we kept her going for a few years. I also asked my vet about Azodyl and she said she did not think it really helped.

  7. Danielle says:

    These people are too much! They got banned so they changed the name and launched a new product named Aminavast with the same lies and hype!

  8. skeptvet says:

    Sad, frustrating, and entirely predictable. After all, when it takes the FDA several years to get an injunction against a product, and there are no financial or legal consequences for the company or its owners, what possible deterrent could this be to simply setting up shop all over again? It’s our own fault as a society that we lack the will to give our government the mandate and resources needed to effectively protect people and pets from snake oil.

  9. Danielle says:

    I read the legal complaint, and they can get fined $5000 per infraction, so I hope the FDA is still watching!! It appears that they really wanted to get them shut down because they went “undercover” and purchased product, etc. I emailed the FDA at SCVN@fda.hhs.gov, and I alerted them to the new website. Meanwhile, Amazon completely pulled it but many websites are still selling it. One even changed the name on the website to Aminavast but showed the photo of Renavast!!

  10. Dr D says:

    Oddly enough, the owner of the company is a chiropractor. Who’d have guessed?

  11. Raja's Mom says:

    My 17 year old Persian was diagnosed with stage four kidney failure. The vet told me that he had three weeks to three months left. I was devastated! A few days later, my vet called me and said that he had received information about Renavast. He said that he had never used it, but he would order it if I wanted to give it a try. Within a week my Persian had a better appetite and more energy. Within a month his coat looked better and he was chasing the dog. In the end, he lived over two more years. He was 19 and three months when I had to put him down due to a stroke. The same vet put many other pets on Renavast once he saw how well my cat did. The other patients also responded well. Personally, I was very thankful for Renavast, the quality of life my Persian enjoyed, and the extra time that I had with him.

  12. Debbi says:

    My 19 year old female Siamese has been on Renavast for about 2 years now. She has done really well on this supplement. My trusted vet recommended and said her own cat is on it. Based on my experience with it I would try it again. Our beloved Lilly seemed to be fading and we truly thought she would soon be gone. But with no other intervention she is still feisty and loving 2 years later! I wish the company had followed federal guidelines and hope they can get this back on the market.

  13. skeptvet says:

    So if I have dozens of patients doing well for just as long without Renavast, does that say anything about the usefulness of it? Such anecdotes are unfortunately more persuasive than they are reliable.

  14. Debbi says:

    After being on Renavast my cats kidney functions are back to the normal range with no other change in treatment. So I will continue with this supplement for now.

  15. amanda says:

    Now it’s out there as AminAvast. What does that mean, did they follow the rules this time?

  16. skeptvet says:

    No, it means that they can get away with simply changing the name because the FDA does not have the manpower or political support to enforce the laws to protect consumers. Sadly, even blatantly illegal marketing is not enough to convince some folks this company and product are not to be trusted.

  17. noid says:

    The company has been shady since before the product even hit the market. The people behind the scam product were joining all kinds of online forums with various pseudonyms and posting the miracle results . . . and offering to “provide” it to others on the QT several months before it was even available. The phony people “testified” to the miracle results without disclosing they were the very people who stood to benefit financially from the sales. It really was disgusting and they suckered a lot of people and made a LOT of money from the product before the FDA finally shut the scam down. Whatever name Jane Garrison had made for herself, she & her husband Mark where quite willing to throw it all away to make money off desperate people with the whole RenAvast/AminAvast scam. Whenever I read the testimonials, I can’t help but wonder how many of them are from the Garrisons & their pals using more pseudonyms to make more money from desperate people. They really ought to be ashamed, but I suspect that’s something they are incapable of experiencing as long as they are making money off the desperate.

  18. Jayne says:

    Have seen remarkable results with RenAvast. My cat is using this product under the vets care….for CRF……results have been nothing but remarkable! He did not push this product….I brought to his attention that AI wanted to give it to my cat. My purchase for the product is not through the vets.
    Once again FDA tries to control us……this is an over the counter product! What’s next our vitamin and herb supplements? There have been NO cases of death from this product. Can’t say that about a recent blood thinner that the FDA pulled off the market after a patient died! Big PHARMA holds hands with FDA and more times than not approves drugs too quickly…..only later recalling the drugs when people start dropping!! RenAvast is safe and they know it. They claim there is no proof that it works….it works and there have been no pets dying from it! Guarantee the FDA wants to control it for Big Pharma and turn it into a prescription only med….and jack up the price up! Stock up on it while you can…..it’s shelf life is five years! It’s not going to kill the animals….but give it more quality of life.

  19. skeptvet says:

    So much ignorance.
    1. You have no idea whether or not this product is safe or there are any cases of illness or death caused by it. How would you know this since nobody requires keeping track (unlike for pharmaceuticals) and the company sure wouldn’t be announcing it on their web site? This is just an assumption.

    2. You evidence it works is nothing but anecdote, and I’ve already explained exhaustively why this isn’t meaningful.

    3. Tinfoil hat conspiracy BS about the FDA proves nothing. A little awareness of history would show you how grateful you should be that the FDA exists to limit the harm companies can do selling snake oils without evidence for safety or efficacy.

  20. abc says:

    My vet is an old country doctor type who donates his services to local shelters, rescues cats and runs an adoption/fostering service out of his vet practice. He helps the animals first and worries about payment later, often giving breaks on bills. He recommended this for our cat who has kidney disease, saying he’s seen good result in other cats. Our cat’s kidney function improved on this supplement, when it appeared she was going to die before.

    Clearly this company has not followed proper procedure with the FDA, and is making drug claims wihout clinicals to back them up, as well as failing to properly assess safety. Clinical trials run into the millions of dollars, and it is likely, absent the drug claims, that this could be legally marketed as a dietary supplement. I think Aminavast lists the ingredients now, as well. Safety studies would be good to have.

  21. judy says:

    I started giving this to my 16 yr old Yorkie over a year ago when she was diagnosed with kidney failure. There really are no medications to help them and the prescription diet thing is crap. That’s what should be banned. After several days of that diet she could barely walk from lack of protien. She had been on a holistic diet all her life. She’s doing great on the Renavast and my vet asked what I was giving her that was keeping her so stable. I also put her back on her regular food. she’s doing great for a 16 yr old dog.

  22. skeptvet says:

    “the prescription diet thing is crap”

    Actually, there is strong evidence that renal diets reduce symptoms of disease and prolong life. The fact that your dog is doing well is great, but it doesn’t mean the renavast is working. I have plenty of stable renal failure patients doing well not on reneavast. The only way to know is a direct comparison in a clinical study, which has not been done.

  23. Julie Abbey says:

    Thank God for the Renavast people. My cat at age 16 was in kidney failure. He was down to 6 pounds and close to death. Out of total desperation and as a last resort, my vet recommended we try Renavast. Within a week my cat was better. There are hundreds if not thousands of people who have posted on the internet who had the same or similar experience. I can’t believe people are defending the FDA here – the same administration that has approved so many drugs now involved in class actions for killing people or causing severe damage to their bodies. The FDA is a joke. How long does it take to get a drug approved by the FDA? How many cats would have died prematurely without this product? The argument goes both ways. It may have taken 3 years for their injunction. It takes just as long – if not longer – to get a life-saving drug approved. And even then it could be a killer. Just because it hasn’t been “blessed” by the FDA doesn’t mean Renavast isn’t effective. I don’t know why its creator hasn’t done the required testing. I don’t care. I know it saved my cat’s life. I understand the need for testing, etc. But at the end of the day, what good is FDA approval when FDA-approved medications are out there causing people heart, liver, kidney damage and all sorts of other problems (including death) from drugs the FDA is convinced are worthy? The class actions against the companies that make these “approved” medications are everywhere. Give me a break.

  24. skeptvet says:

    Apart from the usual lack of understanding for why such anecdotes don’t actually show this, or any other, product works, what you’re lacking here is an understanding of history. Before the FDA, people were routinely crippled and killed by all kinds of snake oils and contaminated food. We have simply forgotten how much more dangerous medicines and foods were that we foolishly imagine we can tell for ourselves whether medicines are safe or effective, and we think every complaint about approved drugs must be true or must represent a failure of the system so complete that we’d be better off without the system. There is no difference between this and the ridiculous idea that somehow we were healthier and better off before vaccines. Such a serious ignorance of science and history is dangerous in a world that depends so heavily on the fruits of science and in a democratic system where important policy decisions involving scientific issues are made by an electorate that doesn’t understand science.

    Why We’re Often Wrong

    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine

    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough

    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)

    Medical Miracles: Should We Believe?

    Testimonials Lie

    Alternative medicine and placebo effects in pets

    Medical Practices Once Widely Accepted that Proved Ineffective or Harmful when Studied Scientifically

    J Med Internet Res 2014;16(8):e193
    How Feedback Biases Give Ineffective Medical Treatments a Good Reputation

    Mícheál de Barra, PhD ; Kimmo Eriksson, PhD ; Pontus Strimling, PhD

    Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm, Sweden


    Background: Medical treatments with no direct effect (like homeopathy) or that cause harm (like bloodletting) are common across cultures and throughout history. How do such treatments spread and persist? Most medical treatments result in a range of outcomes: some people improve while others deteriorate. If the people who improve are more inclined to tell others about their experiences than the people who deteriorate, ineffective or even harmful treatments can maintain a good reputation.

    Objective: The intent of this study was to test the hypothesis that positive outcomes are overrepresented in online medical product reviews, to examine if this reputational distortion is large enough to bias people’s decisions, and to explore the implications of this bias for the cultural evolution of medical treatments.

    Methods: We compared outcomes of weight loss treatments and fertility treatments in clinical trials to outcomes reported in 1901 reviews on Amazon. Then, in a series of experiments, we evaluated people’s choice of weight loss diet after reading different reviews. Finally, a mathematical model was used to examine if this bias could result in less effective treatments having a better reputation than more effective treatments.

    Results: Data are consistent with the hypothesis that people with better outcomes are more inclined to write reviews. After 6 months on the diet, 93% (64/69) of online reviewers reported a weight loss of 10 kg or more while just 27% (19/71) of clinical trial participants experienced this level of weight change. A similar positive distortion was found in fertility treatment reviews. In a series of experiments, we show that people are more inclined to begin a diet with many positive reviews, than a diet with reviews that are representative of the diet’s true effect. A mathematical model of medical cultural evolution shows that the size of the positive distortion critically depends on the shape of the outcome distribution.

    Conclusions: Online reviews overestimate the benefits of medical treatments, probably because people with negative outcomes are less inclined to tell others about their experiences. This bias can enable ineffective medical treatments to maintain a good reputation.

    50 Years after thalidomide: Why regulations matter
    The Agency We Need; Defending the FDA
    Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business, and 100 Years of Regulation

  25. Gus Morgan says:

    hopefully NO ONE agrees that any commercial pet food, whether Rx or otherwise, is good for a pet in renal failure especially a cat. Cats are carnivores and require animal based protein….kibble and canned food are primary carbohydrates and what protein they do have is so processed it is unrecognizable. Raw fresh animal based proteins are full of natural amino acids, proteins and moisture that cats and dogs require for healthy kidney function. Commercial pet food is the reason why so many pets are getting diseases like kidney failure and diabetes. Please educate yourself on natural feeding for the benefit of your pets. No cat in the wild would eat a bowl of dried kibble nor would they choose any carbohydrate over a piece of fresh animal based protein. When you think about it, it just makes sense.

  26. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but you’re simply uninformed and mistaken here.

    1. There is strong clinical trial evidence showing that commercial prescription diets prolong life and reduce symptoms in cats with CKD:
    Elliott J, Rawlings JM, Markwell PJ, et al. Survival of cats with naturally occurring chronic renal failure: effect of dietary management. J Small Anim Pract 2000;41:235–242.
    “A prospective, nonrandomized, nonmasked study4 in cats with CKD was performed to compare outcomes in cats that consumed therapeutic foods designed for cats with renal disease with outcomes in cats that would not accept the therapeutic foods and continued eating their usual food. Information about staging of CKD was not available; however, mean ± SD serum creatinine concentrations at the beginning of the study were 2.89 ± 0.15 mg/dL in the usual food group and 3.16 ± 0.25 mg/dL in the therapeutic food group. Cats that consumed the therapeutic food had a median survival time of 633 days, whereas cats that consumed
    their usual food had a median survival time of 264 days.”

    Ross SJ, Osborne CA, Kirk CA, et al. Clinical evaluation of dietary modification for treatment of spontaneous chronic kidney disease in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;229:949–957.
    “The other study5 involving cats with stage 2 or 3 CKD was a prospective, randomized, controlled, masked clinical trial in which the effects of consuming a therapeutic food were compared with those of consuming an adult maintenance food. In that study, no cats that consumed the therapeutic food developed a uremic crisis or died of renal causes while enrolled in the study, whereas 26% of cats that consumed the adult maintenance food developed a uremic crisis and 22% died of renal causes.”

    Denying this evidence and refusing to utilize such diets harms patients.

    2. “Kibble and canned food are primary carbohydrates and what protein they do have is so processed it is unrecognizable.”
    This is ignorant nonsense. Decades of research, hundreds of studies, and millions of healthy pet cats eating commercial pet foods give the lie to this kind of propaganda. If you think you have a better idea, you are welcome to do the work to prove it, but don’t expect to be taken seriously when you say obviously false things like this without evidence.

    3. “No cat in the wild would eat a bowl of dried kibble nor would they choose any carbohydrate over a piece of fresh animal based protein.” And cats in the wild (feral cats) live far shorter and less healthy lives than well-cared for owned cats.

  27. noid says:

    Thanks, skeptvet, for your comments about prescription renal diets. I get soo tired of people who have agendas just completely discounting what science has proven. They read a lot on the Internet without understanding what terms mean, and they get completely caught up in the cult of personalities of those who agree with their personal biases and pretend to be nutrition experts . . . and they discount that CKD kitties who eat commercial renal diets well generally have fewer CKD complications. Oh — and with respect to the whole raw nonsense, they completely ignore that CKD cats are at greater risk of food-borne pathogens and also far less able to weather a bout of food-borne illness than a healthy cat would be. I’ve read far too many accounts from CKD owners feeding raw where the cats have GI episodes where the owners absolutely refuse to even consider that the food may be the cause because raw is “natural.” SMH.

  28. Justin says:

    P.S. The Facebook comment I just referenced was made by one “Jennifer Carrahon.” Googling this name shows so few results, and some of these reference RenAvast/AminAvast, that I am wondering if this is nothing more than a fake name made up for no other purpose than to tout this product.

  29. andrea says:

    I found this post while googling AminAvast as I received that instead of the renovast I ordered. My cat was 14 when she was in full kidney failure. I had researched Renovast on my own and asked my vet about it. She was none too convinced but actually contacted the research scientist at UCLA who conducted the studies at my request. After the conversation, she concluded that it may not help but it would probably do no harm and I had nothing to lose. Three months later my cat showed considerable improvement with her Creatine and BUN levels, and the vet was sold. Lab results are objective, not subjective. It did not last forever of course, but my special girl lived 4 more happy and comfortable years for which I am very grateful. Her diet became worse over time as I had to switch from kidney support to high calorie options to help her with the weight loss. But the vet agreed she had a lot more quality time and potentially less damage from the diet as a result of the Renovast. This is a fantastic site on CKD btw, it addresses many of the diet arguments in earlier posts and is backed up by studies/facts. I found this post while googling AminAvast as I received that instead of the renovast I ordered. My cat was 14 when she was in full kidney failure. I researched renovast on my own and asked my vet about it. She was none too convinced but actually contacted the research scientist who conducted the studies on my behalf. She concluded that it may not help but it would probably do no harm and I had nothing to lose. Three months later she showed considerable improvement with her Creatine and BUN levels, and the vet was sold. Lab results are objective, not subjective. My special girl lived 4 more happy and comfortable years for which I am very grateful. Her diet became worse over time as I had to switch from kidney support to high calorie options to help her with the weight loss. But the vet agreed she had a lot more quality time and potentially less damage from the diet as a result of the renovast. There is a fantastic site on CKD btw, it addresses many of the diet arguments in earlier posts and is backed up by studies/facts. It is called felinecrf dot org. I am in process of ordering more AminAvast for my 9 year old who is showing signs of CKD now also.

  30. Victoria says:

    I wasn’t keen on the high carb “prescription diet” idea when my cat was diagnosed with kidney disease two years ago (because the only foods he would eat were oily, rich high protein and tuna/fished-based) so I begged my vet to find another route. She found the RenAvast (now AminAvast) supplement and I happily complied. We found that within 6 weeks, my cat’s kidney values returned to healthy ranges. My vet was so impressed with the results that she began to use it with her other patients.

    I have not changed anything else with my cat. It has been two years of being on this supplement and his kidney values are still good. He is now 17 years old!

  31. DrZ says:

    So, Skeptvet, if the product has not been shown to cause harm, and tons of vets and their clients and patients are pleased with it, why do you care? If you don’t like it or don’t think it works, then don’t use it! I am a vet who has put dozens of pets (mostly cats) on Renavast/Aminovast over the last several years. EVERY SINGLE ONE of them has felt better on the supplement, and almost all of them had improved renal values. Absolute lab values don’t lie and are not considered “anecdotal”, they are concrete evidence. Since no other treatment was employed in most cases, one can safely assume that the Renavast helped. I will continue to recommend the product.

  32. skeptvet says:

    Several issues here. You cannot prove cause and effect without controlled trials. Lab values may be an objective measure of improvement, but they say nothing about the cause of improvement. Other interventions, the natural course of disease, and many other factors influence these values. The bottom line is if it were this easy to know what works and what doesn’t in medicine, we wouldn’t need science and we wouldn’t have wasted most of human history on useless or harmful treatments, from bloodletting to ritual sacrifice to homeopathy. I can give a cat with interstitial cystitis antibiotics or any other therapy I want, and that cat will get better. But scientific research tells us that it’s not my intervention causing the change.

    Which raises the issue of unintentionally deceiving clients (and ourselves). If we use anecdotes to guide our therapies, we are guaranteed to be using plenty of things that don’t work and telling people they do. This is wrong, ethically and medically. I care because a failure to heed the results of scientific research have led doctors, in human and vet med alike, to harm and kill thousands of patients. Perhaps RenAvast is harmless, and perhaps using it along with, rather than instead of, validated therapies for CKD doesn’t do any harm, but we can’t be sure without the research. And using instead of other therapies, which people will inevitably do if they believe it works and is “natural” will surely cause harm.

    You might consider the possibility that your observations may not mean what you believe they mean given that the best minds in the history of medicine have been frequently and consistently wrong when trusting such observations. Here are some examples to consider:

    Medical Practices Once Widely Accepted that Proved Ineffective or Harmful when Studied Scientifically

    Why We’re Often Wrong

    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine

    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough

    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)

    Medical Miracles: Should We Believe?

    Testimonials Lie

    Alternative medicine and placebo effects in pets

  33. Jackie says:

    I’m a very skeptical person, but when my 13-year-old cat went into kidney failure 3/ 1/2 years ago, my vet suggested trying Renavast. He ordered a bottle and within weeks, my cat’s labs came back with much improved kidney function.

    My cat is nearly 17 now and his kidneys are weakening again, but I truly believe the Renavast bought him a few years. The lab results speak for themselves. After the first bottle, I ordered them online, so my vet got no profit.

    After my vet died, my new vets have no problem with the Renavast, although they sell a different amino acid product.

    Can I prove the Renavast helped? No, but he had bad kidney function and then he didn’t and is still going fairly strong. That’s good enough for me.

  34. Mike says:

    This debate should be more about the marketing methods and the claims made by the company which may skirt and/or violate FDA regulations. That is fair game. But, it is also untrue that they don’t publish the ingredients. I am looking at the bottle and it list the following ingredients: L-Aspartic acid, L-Carnosine, L-Glutamic acid, L-Glutamine, Glycine, L-Arginine and L-Histidine.

    These are simply amino acids and peptides in small amounts that are not harmful to dog and cats and are supported in other research as beneficial to kidney function. I agree that it should not be marketed as cure or a drug as it is simply a supplement with a lot of anecdotal evidence that show it is helpful and not harmful to CKD afflicted pets.

    In the worst case it is a waste of your money so buyer beware but it certainly doesn’t deserve the venom directed from this website. BTW, after consulting with my vet, I have used this product for two years for my CKD siamese cat. Over that time her numbers have been stable or improved. I don’t necessarily attribute that to Renavast but I do consider it an important part of her daily regimen.

  35. skeptvet says:

    Yes, after my original post I did find the ingredients are listed on the bottle (though they weren’t easy to find on the web site when I initially reviewed it). I agree the risks are small, but again harmful effects have been seen with too much water, oxygen, vitamin C, and plenty of other seemingly benign substances. In any case, the real risk is from people using this in stead of appropriate treatments because they have been misled by unproven claims from the manufacturer and by the power of anecdotes.

  36. Jeorge Anne Samet says:

    I have had my cat, Jasmine, on Renavast for the past 6 months. Prior to her being on the supplement, her values in bloodwork tests were consistently climbing. After being on this supplement for six months, not only has she pounded back with energy, but she has gained weight due to her increased appetite, and her Renal values have returned to just above normal when only seven months ago she was at stage 4 in the progression of renal disease. I personally do not care what the FDA has to say, nor in “naysayers” who have commented here. All I know, is that Jasmine is now, at this very moment, sunning herself poolside, after she had her daily hunt for lizards. She eats a normal diet, called Spot’s Stew, and an occasional treat of cooked chicken or steak bites. I thank the day I was able to add Renavast to her daily regimen. Jasmine has thrived, gained and maintained her weight, and is a happy and almost completely healthy cat.

  37. skeptvet says:

    You probably won’t be interested in the reasons why this story doesn’t prove anything, but just in case.

    Why We’re Often Wronghttp://www.skeptvet.com/index.php?p=1_13_Why-We-re-Often-Wrong

    The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicinehttp://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=33

    Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enoughhttp://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=729

    Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2015/02/dont-believe-your-eyes-or-your-brain/

    Medical Miracles: Should We Believe?http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2012/07/medical-miracles-should-we-believe/

    Testimonials Liehttp://skeptvet.com/Blog/2014/08/testimonials-lie-more-evidence-for-why-you-cant-trust-anecdotes-or-personal-internet-reviews-of-medical-treatments/

  38. Bruce Levy says:

    Right or wrong this product, I truly believe, is adding years to my cats life. She is 17 now. She was fading away. Loosing weight and appetite , slowing down, fading and disinterested. Started her on Revast and almost instantly started gaining weight, started showing interest again, gained an appetite and cuddled and played again. It’s been about 2 years now and for me all fingers point to Renavast. Sorry they are avoiding the law but I’d crawl threw garbage to get my hands on this product for my cat.

  39. Cynthia Magidson says:

    I just found this site while trying to re-order Renavast and the on-line company was “out of stock”. Just by chance, I tried another site and found the name change. We have two senior cats (14 & 17), both with kidney failure. They have been on the Renavast for over a year but are also getting weekly subcutaneous fluids. They are mostly stable. They both refuse to eat any of the prescription Kidney diet foods — tried them all. They’d rather starve. Our vet says “eating is better than not eating” so we’re back to the Classic Fancy Feasts. But there are now several companies providing “grain free” canned foods out there that our two seem to like a lot. (We have two friends who are on grain-free and have seen a vast improvement in their cats over the past few years.) After reading “Your Cat”, by vet Elizabeth Hodgkins, I started looking into the grain free foods. This book is a good read and makes the case some above have noted — cats are carnivores — not grain eaters. And she makes good points about avoiding dry foods and just how little the prescription diet foods are actually tested. I plan to stay with the Renavast, now Amnivast, and have found it on-line much cheaper than at the vet’s. Since it does not appear to be doing any harm out there and my cats are eating better, I see no reason to take the risk by removing it from their diet. Thanks especially to CatMom, Violet, and GusMorgan for their comments. Do read “Your Cat” — lots of good stuff.

  40. Tom V says:

    Plain and simply said, this product has worked on my 64 lb, 10-year old Siberian Husky over the last three years and probably saved his life. Before Renavast/Aminavast, he was losing weight, not interested in eating and wouldn’t play anymore. My vet of 15 years did blood work on him which indicated renal failure. He recommended the product but did not try to sell it to me. He told me I could find it on the web and I did. Subsequent bloodwork over this same period indicate all his levels are within normal range. There is nothing else to attribute his overall good health and appetite to. Without Renavast/Aminavast, my dog would have been long gone by now. Instead, he’s out there in the back yard sunning himself in the snow waiting to go on his daily walk.

  41. Jeorge Anne Samet says:

    Dear Tom V:
    I totally agree with you. My cat, who is 16 now, was in stage IV renal disease. After being on Renavast/Aminavast for the past 6 or more months, her Bloodwork is now her all the way back to Satge 1. She is eating, playing, hunting just like she did when she was young. Prior to Renavast, all she could manage to do was lay in her room all day…no energy..very little appetite. Now, she is back to being an energetic, healthy eater. I called this company right before New Year’s and thanked them for saving my cat’s life!

  42. Lynda Folwick says:

    I would never give my dog with kidney failure any supplement that didn’t disclose its ingredients. But regarding diet, it can make a dramatic difference. Our vet did post-grad study in the effect of diet on kidney disease in dogs and found that they live on average two years longer on a kidney-friendly diet. I had a diet formulated for my dog by a nutritionist, so instead of using the prescription food I make her food myself. She was diagnosed with kidney failure at 3 months old and is now 5 1/2 and doing well, with slow progression to stage III. She’s also on Azodyl, but I don’t know if it helps or not.

  43. Miranda says:

    My cat has been on Aminavast for a year, per my vet’s instruction. He went from CKD stage 2 to stage 3. It did nothing other than help drain my bank account.

    I switched vets. I suspected this supplement was a load of BS when my old vet put my cat on it, but I obliged. It didn’t do shit. My cat’s renal values rose and fell depending on his T4 levels. The aminavast, if anything, essentially just increased his intake of water (because most people sprinkle it in wet food or dissolve it in water and syringe it into their mouths). That’s probably why their cats stabilize — more water. You don’t need to pay 23-40$ a bottle to learn that extra water sure helps a failing kidney.

  44. Bryan says:

    ‘… we wouldn’t have wasted most of human history on useless or harmful treatments, from bloodletting to ritual sacrifice to HOMEOPATHY’

    This says everything one needs to know about ‘skeptvet’.

  45. skeptvet says:

    I notice that’s not a rebuttal. I guess that says all we need to know about you?

  46. v.t. says:

    Bryan, because science has refuted and discarded homeopathy. It’s ridiculous that homeopathy proponents can’t seem to get past that.

  47. Heather B says:

    Hello SkeptVet!
    I’m curious on your take regarding this company who appears to now be under the supervision of the FDA after quick review of their website. They actually state their new AminAvast product is regulated and “now” approved by the FDA so they must’ve followed some sort of guideline & have complied with the FDA’s requirements, right? Why else would they state the product is backed by the FDA in their “about us” section on their site?
    Have your thoughts changed any on this new product since all this back & forth topic conversation started a year ago regarding Renavast or are you still against this product? My Lilac Point Siamese cat was just diagnosed with Stage 1 kidney problems (not sure it’s a disease yet) & when I went to pick up my cat the vets office handed me a bag of medication. What I thought was interesting is that they had placed an Rx label over the bottle, leading me to believe this was a prescription drug! He also chargede $35.00 for it. I am to follow the Hills Kidney diet dry food regime, these pills 2x a day & increase water intake & return in 2 weeks to evaluate his levels. I will see what they show at that time & make a determination from there. I will also point out to them that I would have rather had a decision in the matter as to if I wanted to administer this product on my own or not and don’t appreciate not being told that its a supplement or its background. It does appear there are mixed feelings about this product so I figure 2 weeks can’t hurt to try it out. I’m just curious if you feel more at ease now that the product has been approved by the FDA or are you still against this stuff? The bottom line is either we animal owners choose to try it or we don’t. Nobody is forcing any of us to administer this to our pets. If nothing changes in 2 weeks & I don’t see that this warrants me to keep giving it to my cat, then I won’t. I just hope the company was legit to begin with & didn’t intentionally come up with the previous product “Renavast” to mislead anyone or fail to display all information on their label because they were up to something fishy? I don’t know how any company would benefit themselves by doing that but sadly, in this day & age, there are all sorts of hidden agendas behind “some” people’s intentions and actions. Anyway, thanks for your concern and starting the thread, I’m glad I do at least know about the history behind this company & can form my own opinion going forward, based on lab results in a few weeks! Take care. Heather in Las Vegas, NV

  48. skeptvet says:

    The short answer is that I suspect the company is lying and is still illegally marketing the product under the new name. The FDA sent a warning letter in 2012. The company did not comply, and it took three years for the FDA to file the court injunction to stop the marketing of RenAvast. At that point, the company changed the name of the product. The FDA is not allowed to comment on enforcement actions, so there is no way to check the status of the action against the company. However, the only way the company would be allowed to make treatment claims would be to fulfill the requirements for prescription drug label, and no such approval has been obtained.

    I also note that the company simply states their facility meets the standards for a drug manufacturing plant. That does not meet the product has met any testing requirements at all, and they do not claim it has. They certainly have not published any additional scientific information to suggest efficacy. So I think this is just an ongoing example of the ineffective regulation of these supplements and how easy it is for companies to avoid even the minimal legal limitations that exist for such products.

  49. Heather B says:

    Thank you for the information. I’m not so sure I like what I’ve read about the company so far and confused as to why the vet pushed to have me administer this to my cat. I’ll see how his levels are in 2 weeks and then I’ll stop it & see how they are after so that I can form my opinion as to if this works or not. I appreciate your response!! 🙂

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