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There’s one thing people struggling with opioid addiction need: the facts. And there’s something that can hinder their recovery and perhaps even lead to relapse: unproven treatments promoted with deceptive advertising claims. Partnering with federal health agencies, the FTC has announced efforts related to both issues – and there are steps your business can take to lend a hand.

The FTC and SAMHSA (HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) have issued a downloadable fact sheet advising consumers that dietary supplements, including herbal blends, vitamins, and minerals, have not been scientifically proven to treat opioid dependence or ease withdrawal. Products that promise miracle cures or easy results can waste time and money and may even be dangerous. A more effective first step for people struggling with dependency – and for family and friends eager to offer support – is to call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, for free 24/7 referrals and information. Another option is SAMSHA’s confidential online treatment locator.

FTC staff is also following up on earlier law enforcement efforts to address deceptive opioid addiction treatment and withdrawal promises. The latest step is warning letters from the FTC and FDA to companies that may be using questionable claims to pitch addiction or withdrawal remedies. The letters remind advertisers that they need solid proof to support all health claims conveyed to consumers, especially representations about serious conditions like opioid dependence.

The unfortunate reality is that the opioid epidemic affects every community. There are steps every business person can take toward a solution.

  1. Use your standing in the community to share accurate information. Through your company’s HR staff, your social networks, and professional associations, distribute the FTC-SAMHSA fact sheet. Someone in your circle may need the SAMHSA’s Helpline for themselves or a struggling family member. By publicizing the number, 1-800-662-HELP, you could be sharing a life-saving resource.
  2. Report questionable claims to the FTC. If you spot an ad making opioid addiction or withdrawal treatment promises that arouse your suspicions, flag it for us through our online Complaint Assistant.
  3. Don’t associate your business with unproven remedies. It’s a pernicious pattern that repeats itself. Whenever news reports spotlight a serious public health concern, some marketers rush in with unproven treatments or “cures.” It should go without saying – which is why we’re going to say it – that reputable companies want nothing to do with businesses that promise easy answers to complicated health problems. Don’t disseminate questionable claims yourself and don’t risk your reputation by associating with companies that may be trying to cash in on a public health crisis.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Donna Coghlan
January 24, 2018
17 years my son, every type of treatment program, including in patient (all report 2-3% success), methadone clinics (which should shutdown) as this gives the user the same high when taken with xanaxs, pysch hospitals, jail, 1/2 way house.....and he still shooting this demon. Now Philadelphia is going to give them a safe place for injection....sickenings me. Anyone who seeks treatment should e forced to give up their dealer - its the only cure - get this demon out of our cities.

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