FDA Now Censoring Consumer Free Speech on the Internet

censorOr, to be more precise, demanding that supplement companies do it on their orders. Action Alert!

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently issued warning letters to two different supplement companies. Here is what triggered one of them: supplement company AMARC Enterprises “liked” a Facebook customer testimonial about how their product helped “keep cancer at bay.” FDA says this means AMARC made a disease claim. Note that the customer did not even say that the product cured cancer, just that it helped keep the customer free of cancer.

Regardless of what the comment was, are companies now responsible for customer comments on social media pages, an increasingly important form of communication and interaction between companies and the public? If a company stops allowing customer comments that might get it in hot water with the FDA, then the agency has censored consumer speech.

Here is what triggered another FDA letter to a supplement company: on the website for M.D.R. Fitness Corp., if one types disease terms into the search box, one sees information about specific products. FDA claims this constitutes an “implied” disease claim.

This goes too far. It means that even a sentence such as, “Living in a healthy way can help avoid cancer or heart attacks,” will be disallowed. Certain words will be absolutely forbidden. This is a very slippery slope. Once this line is crossed, how far will the FDA go?

What is behind all this craziness? Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), a drug is defined as a product “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals.” FDA regulates health claims made on product labels (including supplement labels). Under this “intended use” doctrine, the FDA can conclude that a product is a “drug” based solely on a company’s promotional claims or, as with last year’s federal appeals court case of US v. Caronia, statements made by an advertiser or promoter.

For example, garlic becomes an illegal drug if an advertiser claims that the product will cure food poisoning, even though this is verifiably true. Similarly, manuka honey becomes an illegal drug if a seller mentions that it will stop skin infections (also verifiably true, as even the New York Times has reported). There are many, many such examples.

The “intended use” doctrine can also magically change many non-traditional products into drugs or medical devices. For example, last year the FDA said the agency would likely regulate medical mobile apps on smart phones and tablets because they essentially transform a device into a regulated medical device. Developers of the apps would not be considered medical device makers unless they were marketing the product as being intended for medical uses—not unlike FDA’s approach to supplements. Now Congress is concerned about whether manufacturers of such apps will be subject to excise taxes under the Affordable Care Act.

FDA’s new warnings seem to defy the judge’s decision in US v. Caronia which, as we noted in December, mostly underscored protections of free commercial speech. FDA is using a very broad interpretation of what constitutes a disease claim, explicit or especially implied. As any Facebook user realizes, a “like” may simply be a passive acknowledgement of someone’s comment; surely it is a stretch to consider any comment that even mentions cancer to be a disease claim!

It is notable that FDA decided not to appeal the US v. Caronia ruling because the agency “does not believe that the Caronia decision will significantly affect the agency’s enforcement of the drug misbranding provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” With these latest warning letters, they’re certainly acting as if the Caronia ruling never happened.

They may, however, be a little worried. The agency buried the above warnings amid a list of other alleged infractions. The agency seems to be trying to expand its Internet regulatory reach in a piecemeal under-the-radar fashion. We need to let them know we are noticing. We also need to pass the Free Speech About Science Act.

Action Alert! Tell the FDA to stop trying to censor consumer free speech and Internet searches! Let the agency know it has gone too far. Send your message today!

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  1. Common sense has flown out the window. Apparenlty adult Americans are not responsible enough for themselves to make determinations on their own without big brother’s help?

  2. Freedom of speech. First Amendment. Maybe you have heard of them? Stop the censorship! I think the ACLU needs to get involved on this one.

  3. It seems quite obvious to anyone with half a brain that the FDA or is it Federal Dieasese Administration does not give a crap about our health, it’s about profits VS people and in that equation we will allways be on the losing side.
    Drugs FDA allows via so called disclaimers that kill untold numbers of people left and right and or cause tons of side effects are allowed to go to market in a free market fascicst monopoly of our health.
    The FDA never dissapoints me in their on going attacks on consumer choice and the free flow of vital health benefits and NOT direct implied claims by many people who desire to avoid toxic medicines and their too often deadly side effects by taking natural health safe supplements, healthy food, organics excetra as nature, our bodies and God intended.
    People helping people, supplement companies and natural foods via discussion boards is what FDA is against, again the answer is as plain as day in the face….greed, money and power over the masses like sheep to be hereded to think alike for a healthy consumer is a bad consumer in their eyes, FDA WORKS FOR DRUG COMPANIES WHO SIT ON THEIR BOARDS AND DICTATE THE POLICY AGENDA, IT’S THE FINEST GOVERNMENT MONEY CAN BUY.

  4. FDA,
    Stop trying to censor consumer free speech and Internet searches!
    The agency really has gone too far.

  5. Many FDA “approved” drugs have significant side-effects, including death. Police yourselves, not Nature or the free speech of those who know better..

  6. I had a first hand experience with this issue. I bought supplements from Swanson vitamins and wanted to write reviews for those I used. Under FDA pressure Swanson rejects any review that actually describes specific benefits…only vague language is allowed.

  7. to whom it may concern,you sir have no right censoring the internet or free speech,or sending supplement companies alerts,that they have to do it on fda alerts,you have no right stopping free speech,or telling supplement companies to follow your action alerts,who do you think you are,this is america,we have the right to free speech,and all the people i know love and swear by supplements,not the man made poison drugs given to people each day.rememeber we the people who are the real government,not another government wastefull do nothing adminstration.which is another wastefull government adminstration,for which the taxpayers who are you bosses,have been saying for years,we neither want or do not like paying for.god bless life saving supplements.the natural health healers

  8. When I refer to the FDA, I call them murders for corporate profit inc.. Why? it is because they allow thousand of drugs on the market that kill not cure with a Pharmaceutical making profits of thousands of percent on each tablet. Then we get to the processed foods, which the FDA allows thousands of Toxins that make you and your children sick in mind and body. Like AZODICARBONAMIDE, High Fructose corn syrup, Ammonium Sulfate, Mono & Triglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Tartrazine (coal tar waste) and the list is never ending. I have written both Senators and Representative and their answer is zero and why is because they do not want to stop the 30 pieces of blood stained silver that put in their hands. Here is a quote from one of their own:”THE THING THAT BUGS ME IS THAT PEOPLE THINK THE FDA IS PROTECTING THEM. IT ISN’T. THE FDA IS PROTECTING THE PROFITS OF THE CORPORATIONS THAT PAY US AND THE POLITICIANS!” Herbert Ley, M.D. Former FDA Commissioner. Please note just who is getting paid, POLITICIANS. The FDA is allowed to be of total power and total power corrupts totally and yours and my elected have sold us down the river and have no and I mean no controls over this evil.

  9. Common foods used for generations to assist in easing humans & animals health should not be forbidden to talk about verbally or in writting.

  10. Most would agree that FDA behavior as describe here is problematic.
    Allow me to relate other situations in which I wish the FDA or FTC could intervene.
    I follow a number of bodybuilding sites and am frustrated that real customer comments are overpowered/obscured by fake comments posted by employees of the product manufacturer. Some user ids praise every product from one manufacturer and do not mention any other. Would you suspect a user who consumes both fat loss and weight gain supplements or one who personally consumes products that are specific to males or females?
    Some praise a product as changing their lives but offer no details and appear to use the same few descriptive keywords. Some claim effects that are simply not possible with the components or dosages in the product. Placebo effect and verbally-challenged users may explain a few but the sheer volume insults the reader.
    Among those comments will be a smaller number that make drug-like claims that would be illegal if made by the product manufacturer. If I can recognize shills then so can the FDA. A shill should not be allowed to make a claim that would be illegal for his employer.
    Finally, there are the web sites that offer no science and are nothing but testimonials. Trolls will post their links on self-help sites that attract desperate people. Even if these sites include a few real testimonials and avoid drug-like claims they are are abusive and may convince the most needy that the products are a viable alternative to proper medical care.
    Since many members of ANH are manufacturers or vendors I ask that they PLEASE show us some respect.

  11. This is outrageous! Thank you for the info in this article. The FDA is taking on way too much. They seem to be a little out-of-control with no official oversight.

  12. Hey ! I know alot of DRUGS advertised on TV are telling us that they will do alot of negative things maby even want to commit sucide besides to help cure something…so I`ll do as i please with what ever [God made herb] I want and to the FDA I SAY YO MAMMA !

  13. The FDA is under the thumb of Monsanto now or should I say Obama appointed the former Vice President of Monsanto Michael Taylor as a senior adviser to the FDA back in 2009. Taylor is currently a Deputy Commissioner for Foods for the FDA.
    The war is over, everybody just get cancer and die quietly.

  14. It’s worrying that the FDA haven’t got anything better to do. They have gone the same way as parking enforcement (traffic wardens) – once their purpose was to keep the roads free of obstruction. Now their purpose is… what, exactly, other than to make life difficult for motorists? And the entire direction of the FDA seems to be making war on the very people they are supposed to be protecting – members of the public who care about their own health. These systems are supposed to help people – when a system gets this out of whack then it’s time for change.

  15. There are many times I have stated “what ever happened to common sense”. Someone like the FDA seems to be a watchdog for comments that is an innocent proclaim of something someone found that helped with a particular problem. My heart breaks when I know of or hear of someone that gets sicker and sicker when something like the old time earth grown plant can help. And honey and garlic are such things that have been used for centuries to help many ailments. The Native American’s have used plants for many many ailments, which I have been taught.
    I would like to see how we can use both supplements along with medical doctors and (do no harm) which is an oath doctors take. It is interesting how hospitals and doctors are so over burdened with sick people. Curious how this goes unnoticed when all can be of help.

  16. Vitamin supplements helps prevent cancer, daily exercises help prevent cancer, healthy life style help prevent cancer. Millions, Billions, Trillions spend on cancer research, 1950’s there was chemo, 2013 there is STILL chemo. SAME DRUGS BEING USED. Wheres all the money gone. Its FRAUD.You hear of all these break through in cancer research over the last 20 years, and you NEVER hear about them again, while people keep on raising money to find a cancer cure. Same old , same old.HELLO! HELLO! WAKE UP! Something is wrong, something is seriously wrong…
    FDA = GREED.

  17. Well,
    The drug companies and the doctors should be banned from saying that any prescriptions can cure or prevent anything as well. We are SICK OF THE DRUG COMMERCIALS ON TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. How about the First Ammendment ? I mean if money is speach, isn’t speech speech. The FDA should Quit schilling for big pharma and other massive corps. , They should quit trying to destroy the suppliment industry, who does not kill a couple hundred thousand customers a year like big pharma !

  19. You have no right to regulate free speech or internet searches. I have the right to say, read and learn anything I choose. You have abdicated your responsibilities to the people of this country. Your job is to protect the people from harmful foods and drugs. You allow filth in our mega-food suppliers places of business to the point that nearly all meat is contaminated, and pharmacuticals are killing over 100,000 people a.year. Yet you spend countless tax dollars on harrassing those people who do actually have the people’s best interest at heart. Their products have not killed or seriously harmed anyone. How can you possibly justify that? I realize Money Talks, but really, how can you think ,for even a moment, that what you are doing is right, just, or even remotely helpful to the people you have been charged with protecting? All you are.doing is causing more harm to people’s health . Go after these guys manufacturing harmfull pharmacuticals, they are the ones who need serious oversight. Their unethical policies have harmed too many people already. It is unconsionable that you have allowed these situations to become commonplace. Your attempts to fool the american people are going to.backfire in your face one day, do you have any excuse for your present policies that will calm the masses when they understand how badly they.have been duped? How will you explain how so many loved ones have been tossed aside as collateral damage so that you can play your games. How do you sleep at night?

  20. Instead of focusing on supplement companies, the FDA should focus rather on Big Pharma, etc. who knowingly make claims that their products heal this and help that, all the while knowing that their products continue to make people sick and even kill them! SHAME ON YOU FDA and those who line your pockets!!!

  21. If the FDA actually did their jobs they would actually worry about things like GMO’s and their effects on health. Since most of the FDA has worked for Monsanto at one time or another that just isn’t going to happen now is it? How do we eliminate the infiltration of special interest groups too? The corruption will eventually be the demise of the country which is what most of us are witnessing today.

    1. Right. And if the FDA really cared, nicotine, hydrogenated oils, sodium nitrates/nitrites and other poisons would be banned as well.
      Give ’em their pink slips!

  22. How dare the FDA institute such nonsense and then let China continue to import foods when China has dramatically less stringent standards for ingredients or cleanliness of their food products? It is clear that there are politics of the unconstitutional kind, involved in this censorship. How do the American people hold the FDA accountable for thier hypocrisy and their tyranny?????

  23. The FDA should be abolished, because it is failing miserably at protecting our foods and drugs.
    It seems they have forgotten that they are supposed to be serving We the People and think they now work for the new world order.
    Otherwise they would be working to get all MSG labeled in ingredient list as MSG, not under bogus names, they would have long since stopped giving the excitotoxins, MSG and aspartame their GRAS rating (generally regarded as safe), when they have to know that they are toxins that destroy our brains and central nervous systems.
    Instead of doing what would benefit our state of health, they plan to destroy our access to all vitamins, minerals, herbals and supplements above 1/100th of the amount that would make a detectable difference in our bodies, refuse to label GMO produce so we can avoid them, and are planning to stop making them lists ingredients on our food containers.

  24. The US FDA should be getting bigger fish to fry than comments left on Facebook pages by consumers about the positive things found in certain products. These are the true, unsolicited testimonials that really help folks choose which products are good.
    If the FDA wishes to censure what is said by the general public, that is a huge violation of our right to free speech. The internet is a great place, yes, it has its questionable portions, such as scams, but anyone who puts any thought into what is being read will know the difference between a scam and something real.
    The FDA should relax about what consumers write about products they have bought and start going after those manufacturers who are blatantly violating health codes. Such as, pharmaceutical companies that mix up two or more drugs in a dosage or that give meningitis as a by product of a drug. THAT is where the FDA should be spending its time. Along with making sure genetically engineered foods are properly labeled.
    Leave free speech arenas alone, FDA.

  25. The drug manufacturers wrongly have created an illegal police force paid for by our government (that’s our tax dollars at working against us) to keep people sick and make more money. They even have badges and guns. I am suing the the FDA and DOJ since October 26th 2010. The case is now on appeal. I am a Christian minister living under a vow of poverty, so it did not take long before I lost my home of 20 years and became bankrupt.
    The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, refuses to accept medicine, as large as its benefit and strong as its healing power may be, that is not man-made and synthetic, but will gladly support producers of harmful and addicting prescription drugs. Unless the product brings in vast revenue for the pharmaceutical industry, it is unacceptable to the FDA, and what is unacceptable to the FDA is unacceptable FOR the entire American population – no matter the case, no exceptions. Since natural medicine, such as herbs and vitamins, is unacceptable to the FDA, they want the producers – WE herbalists, naturopaths, and health food store owners – to stop encouraging the use of such substances and to shut down our businesses, despite all of the people that we help on a daily basis. This is unfair and unconstitutional. We should have the freedom to dispense what is naturally grown in a garden, such as herbs, or synthesized by the human body, such as vitamins and enzymes, or not, such as minerals and amino acids. We do not intend to harm, only to help, yet the FDA labels us criminals and prosecutes us.

  26. The pharmaceutical companies control the FDA. Their greed won’t allow me any competition.

  27. FDA has no rights telling you what you can take to fight disease and what you cannot. They are in the sales business only. Not to protect people. If there were there to protect people they would have stopped infective vaccines knowing that at least 80% of the pop.s are infected with gene sharing spirochetal prion protein infections from contaminated HeLa vaccine cell lines that have contaminated ALL cells lines used, and infective Lyme vaccines using OSPA claimed to be protective when it has and always will be infective. And it is not only infective in humans, it is infective when they put it in plants and animals. Neglected and lied about for over 35yrs. we now see the results. 1 in 29 babies being born with Autism and hundreds of syndromes/psych/cancers all caused by lies. The FDA has committed Crimes Against Humanity in failures to protect the people siding with the profits instead of the science that told us the truth in 1985. HIV did not cause AIDS, Spirochetal prion proteins used in vaccines for the people, the feed animals, and our pets did and do.

    1. I totally agree with your statement, “The FDA has committed Crimes Against Humanity” unfortunately not one lawyer or legal group will petition the International courts to stop them; so now Americans are living shorter lives and in poorer health than other wealthy nations according to a recent publication by the Academy of Sciences. I have been advised that a petition to the United Nations may be effective in halting the crimes against the American people by the FDA and similar agencies but you won’t find legal help to draft the petition. It is working for nations who are refusing mercury tainted vaccines after all. Maybe we should all start posting how worthless products such as functional foods and pharmaceutical based supplements which are not bio-available, and others that don’t provide enough nutrients to be effective are helpful and thus give the FDA lots more work to do. Food for thought.

  28. Slowly, our rights to natural health practices are being eroded by such censorcship with bad laws. We must keep our freedom going to access whatever infos we wish to encounter in our daily lives and to be shared widely. It is a good thing to be an informed consumer and return to good health for all instead of all these unnatural food substances and practiecs prevalent in our society. I wish to see us return to our ancestral diets to create no harm to bodies within and enviroment. the time is now to take action for our future generations before it is too late and we lose our rights.

  29. free speech is free speech. in life, on the internet…and we need to preserve it! it is a constitutional right!!! no regulations or laws or bills about it! hands off the internet!!!!

    1. To terri adrian. I agree with everything you said, but you can’t fight the FDA no matter what you do. I’ve been a member of a health freedom organization for almost 40 years and we have been fighting an up hill battle to keep our rights and freedom to buy vitamins and organic food to no avail. The FDA has all the pull. They ignore evdence of the cures good nutrition and vitamins have on certain diseases. Do yourself a favor and go on the FDA website and learn what they are all about. Click on as many links as you can. You will be surprised what the FDA and the USDA are involved in. Like you, I will keep fighting for 40 more years if I live that long. Good luck.

  30. Why is this a surprise? It’s nothing new. I’ve been involved with a nutritional supplement company for years and the word from our compliance department from Day One was never to make claims that our products can diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or disease, even though in use, they appear to do so.
    You simply cannot make claims like this and expect there will be no consequences. Companies have been shut down for this. It’s the law: the only products that can make such claims must be classified as a “drug” and have been tested and approved by the FDA. This rule may not pass the common sense test, but until the law is changed, we must protect our companies and stop making such claims, especially publicly.
    The real idiots here are AMARC Enterprises for sanctioning such a claim on Facebook when they should have been taking the claimant to task for risking their very existence. It doesn’t matter which natural health/nutritional supplement company you represent, if you make claims like this, you endanger us all.
    STOP IT NOW!! (Yes, I know I’m shouting.)

  31. From what I have seen these companies have not crossed any lines or made any ridiculous claims. I am thankful to know I have the option to choose natural over medications. How dare they try to take that from us!!!!

  32. Time to revisite:
    – The FDA Regulations
    – The Medical Establishment and Usage of Drugs
    – The Curriculum of Medicine in Colleges, Universities
    – The Free Speech Rights in America and in the World
    – Political Acts, measures, regulating Public Health, Drugs, Education
    All these institutions have fallen behind the evolution, ignoring new fields
    of research and practices outside of their limited conventional type of work..
    They are often governed by special interest, bullied by the Pharmaceuticals
    companies. Their ignorance, bias, and inability to evaluate what is outside of
    their knowledge and competence has left them policing what’s different or seen
    as a treat to their dominion. This is a modern and disguised inquisition.
    Because of it people are deprived of the best possible means to take care of
    their health, and abusively taken away their right to choose. Not to mention
    the side effect of most drugs used in our conventional medicine.
    A new reform of the health system that includes a dialogue between the allopathic
    medicine and the so called alternative medicine is urgent and paramount for any one
    and institutions who care about well being, quality of health and longevity. Homeopathy,
    Acupuncture, and some of most advance vibrational medicines need now to be taught
    at colleges and university level, covered by health insurances, Medicare and else, and
    governed by their own board and entity. This will also have the benefit to guaranty that
    there is a governing body to ensure best practices.
    If we compare the cost of these very effective practices to the conventional allopathic
    one, we will see the financial burden of this country go drastically down and have a
    much healthier population. Do we have enough integrity and are we ready to prioritize
    what’s best for all, and let go the disease of greed that has brought this country on
    their knees? I hope so and I hope that everyone will take in their hand their own health.

    1. “this is a modern and disguised inquisition” Chantel, I agree, on a broad scale. We tend to view the early days of America the Free as a sweeping reform that brought everyone in, no exceptions. Like there were no Scrooges lurking in the wings as the U.S.A. first started flapping its wings and taking off. Like there has not been growing along with the gov. of, for and by the people, a powerful hidden faction aimed at, against and using the people. Yet there is also backlash inherent in our free enterprise system. An example is most clear: Labor Unions got started in bloodshed, stopping gross misconduct by big business. Eventually, corruption took a toll, and the unions demanded unreasonably high wages for workers who carried very little responsibility beyond tightening a bolt. Big business simply moved their operations overseas. My point is that the mindset that caused the Inquisitions never went away. Extreme narrow minded religious political based factions/organizations don’t change. Perhaps people wake u[ and leave them, but the destructive consensus lives on. The same consensus turns a blind eye to the global warming issue. Qualified observers say this faction is only 4% of the population. Aren’t there any powerful and wealthy people in the other 96%? Lawyers, big business, ministers, congressmen… What we concerned citizens must do is have a loving, open language, not demonize, because that approach turns off all movers and shakers. They know that they are dealing with fellow human beings, not bloodless companies and “government”. Always referring to demon organizations in such bloodless ways does not spark realism in our potential powerful allies. Admittedly I am a distant observer. I only hope I have opened some channel of thought here to help bring sane action to the forefront.

  33. FDA Personnel,
    Please stop trying to sensor consumer free speech. Pharmaceutical companies are driven through massive profit which rarely takes the consumers interest into account. Many holistic approaches actually help heal.
    Erik Eck

  34. If you are aware of the reality we are living in, this is no surprise. We have entered into a system much like a spider web, as fast as we try to extricate ourselves from this web we find ourselves caught in the spider is busy weaving more of the web to strangle us. Soon the FDA and all the government’s agencies will consume us. if we work together we may extricate ourselves in time to save the others; it is worth a try and our effort. I have seen too many die at the hands of the good drugs, especially cancer when ‘do no harm’ treatments would have worked because time and again they are proven. I would rather live just south of America than give up what I believe in.

  35. The american government needs to spend more time protecting it’s people from the fda and ftc. Instead of interfering with other countries business and their policies. Any senate or house of representative member who assists or protects the FDAs, FTCs or monsantos policies needs to be voted out of office immediately. He or She is a legal criminalistic minded terrorist. They are only fighting for their pockets and screw those who voted for them. Fidel castro, the leader of Iran or the leader of north korea would be more trustworthy than them. Think about that.

    1. i thinkk everiyone on government try kissl’s people… we need do something before is late…

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