I have written several times about Neutricks, a supplements marketed for cognitive dysfunction in dogs:
This supplement has become the paragon of snake oil supplements for its dramatic claims supported by anecdote and shoddy science. The company and its founders have been warned by regulators about their blithe disregard for unsupported claims about the product, and now the Attorney General of New York and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have filed a lawsuit to stop the fraudulent marketing of the human version of this product, Prevagen.
Such vigorous action is rare in the current anti-regulatory climate, and it is encouraging to see an effort like this to protect consumers from false advertising, even if it currently is only aimed at consumers of the human version of the product. The New York AG was quite blunt in describing the suit:
“The marketing for Prevagen is a clear-cut fraud, from the label on the bottle to the ads airing across the country,” the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “It’s particularly unacceptable that this company has targeted vulnerable citizens like seniors in its advertising for a product that costs more than a week’s groceries, but provides none of the health benefits that it claims.”
The FTC was equally direct:
According to the FTC, the makers of Prevagen relied on a single study to back up their false claims. And the study didn’t even show that Prevagen improved memory better than a placebo. To make matters worse, the FTC and New York Attorney General allege that the company behind Prevagen was actively targeting seniors who were struggling with deteriorating memory.
“The marketers of Prevagen preyed on the fears of older consumers experiencing age-related memory loss,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “But one critical thing these marketers forgot is that their claims need to be backed up by real scientific evidence.”
Even in this supposed “post-fact” era, it is good to see that at least some in government recognize the need for real scientific evidence for healthcare products to protect consumers from snake oils like this. Hopefully, if this suit is successful, the same principles of consumer protection and scientific will be applied to the veterinary market and pet owners, though sadly standards are often lower for pet products.