Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hall of Shame

Two of my favorite all-time baseball players, Cal Ripken, Jr. and 98.5%
Tony Gwynn, have been voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Ripken received 98.5% of the votes and Gwynn received 97.6%

This begs the question - who the hell were the 1.5% and 2.4% of people who voted against them? Are you kidding me?

Monday, January 8, 2007

Did you know that the word "gullible" isn’t in the dictionary?

The Federal Trade Commission has levied 25 million dollars in fines and penalties against companies marketing 4 weight loss products: One-A-Day Weight Smart, Xenadrine EFX, Cortislim, and TrimSpa.

When ephedra became the first dietary supplement to be banned by the FDA after being linked to 155 deaths, manufacturers scrambled to offer "ephedra-free" alternatives. For example, Xenadrine EFX contains bitter orange (Citrus aurantium); but bitter orange is metabolized into synephrine which is still very similar to ephedra in its pharmacodynamics. Ironically, the FTC also discovered that in one of the Xenadrine studies the placebo group actually lost more weight than the study group!

The makers of Cortislim (and Cortistress) were accused of using infomercials that were deceptively formatted to look like legitimate talk shows as well as making unsupported claims of weight loss and prevention of osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Trimspa contains Hoodia gordonii and is known for its famous spokeswoman, Anna Nicole Smith, who claimed to have lost 69 pounds in 8 months. Apparently Trimspa thought that a woman whose main claim to fame was being an topless dancer who married a billionaire thrice her age was a compelling enough reason to have her represent their product.

One-A-Day Weight Smart is brought to you by Bayer which also makes Cipro, Avelox, and Levitra (and the ill-fated cholesterol drug Baycol). The FTC concluded that Bayer's claims that it increased body metabolism were unscientific and objected to their ad that recommended only one exercise: "lift the bottle, twist the cap, and bend your wrist to take the pill."

No, seriously. For their transgressions Bayer will pay a 3.2 million settlement, the largest civil penalty ever issued by the FTC. At the press conference January 4th, FTC chairman Deborah Majoras discounted the use of testimonials in advertising by pointing out that the person is paid to do so, and that they often had additional diet and personal trainers to help them. She also listed some "red flag" claims that consumers should be wary of:

  • Causes substantial weight loss regardless of calories consumed.
  • Causes permanent weight loss even if one stops using it.
  • Blocks absorption of fat or calories.
  • Enables users to lose more than three pounds a week for more than four weeks.
  • Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
  • Causes substantial weight loss by wearing it or by rubbing it into the skin.