VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
RE: NOTICE OF POTENTIAL ILLEGAL MARKETING OF PRODUCTS OR THERAPIES TO PREVENT, TREAT, OR CURE SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (SARS)
DATE: MAY 8, 2003
Federal Trade Commission staff has reviewed marketing claims on your web site relating to the prevention, treatment or cure of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). We remind you that the FTC Act requires that health-related claims, such as claims that a dietary supplement will prevent, treat or cure SARS, or claims that an air filtration device or cleaning agent can kill or eliminate the virus thought to cause SARS, must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence at the time the claims are made. In other words, it is against the law to make health claims, whether directly or indirectly through the use of a product name, web site name, metatags, or any other means, without scientific support or to exaggerate the benefits of products or services you are promoting. Violations of the FTC Act may result in legal action in the form of Federal District Court injunction or Administrative Order. An order also may require that you pay money back to consumers.
In addition, claims that a product is intended to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat, or cure SARS may cause the product to be an unapproved new drug or device under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Act). The Act prohibits the introduction into interstate commerce of unapproved new drugs and certain devices.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SARS is an infectious respiratory illness that appears to be spread primarily by close person-to-person contact by cough or sneeze allowing droplets containing infectious virus to reach the respiratory tract of persons in close proximity. SARS may also be spread by touching objects contaminated with infectious droplets and then touching one's eye(s), nose, or mouth. Although federal and world health authorities are investigating possible vaccines to prevent SARS and drugs to treat the illness, there are currently no medicines proven to prevent, treat or cure SARS or the coronavirus believed to be the cause of SARS.
If you are marketing a dietary supplement for SARS, you should also be aware that a broad coalition of representatives of the dietary supplement industry has issued a joint statement indicating that no dietary supplement has been shown to prevent or treat SARS and advising against the marketing of dietary supplements as a remedy for SARS. The joint statement of the American Herbal Products Association, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Council for Responsible Nutrition, National Nutritional Foods Association, and Utah Natural Products Alliance is available through those organizations' web sites.
The FTC staff strongly urges you to review all claims you are making for your products, particularly claims that your products can prevent, mitigate, treat or cure SARS. If your claims are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence they should be deleted or revised immediately.
FTC investigators have copied and preserved the pages of your online promotional materials and will be revisiting your website soon.
Please notify us via electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org within 7 days of the specific actions you have taken to address the agency's concerns.