Dr. Weil Website Receives First Joint FDA, FTC H1N1 Warning Letter

September 20, 2010

On October 15, FDA and the Federal Trade Commission together issued their first joint warning letter to www.drweil.com, a website associated with health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, for what the agencies called fraudulent H1N1 marketing claims. Among other things, the agencies took issue with a page on the website titled 'Swine Flu and You,' on which Weil gave advice on how to avoid contracting the H1N1 flu. On the same page, Weil suggested using his Weil Immune Support Formula product to help ward off colds and the flu.

On October 15, FDA and the Federal Trade Commission together issued their first joint warning letter to www.drweil.com, a website associated with health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, for what the agencies called fraudulent H1N1 marketing claims.

Among other things, the agencies took issue with a page on the website titled 'Swine Flu and You,' on which Weil gave advice on how to avoid contracting the H1N1 flu. On the same page, Weil suggested using his Weil Immune Support Formula product to help ward off colds and the flu.

Posted on the web page was this statement from Weil: '[D]uring the flu season, I suggest taking a daily antioxidant, multivitamin-mineral supplement, as well as astragalus, a well-known immune-boosting herb that can help ward off colds and flu. You might also consider"the Weil Immune Support Formula[,] which contains both astragalus and immune-supportive polypore mushrooms"'

The warning letter, the first to be issued jointly by the agencies, gave the website 48 hours to respond. Although Weil denied in a statement that his website aimed to market a fraudulent H1N1 product, he ordered that the content in question be deleted from the website, and issued a press statement saying, 'I fully support the FDA/FTC task force in its efforts.'

In the same statement, Weil also added: 'The content that was called into question in the warning was primarily educational, including appropriate strategies to avoid getting the flu this season. It included the official recommendations for H1N1 flu vaccination from the Centers for Disease Control.'

He added: 'Because these products and the flu (which is a medical diagnosis) were both mentioned in editorial content on the site, and it was suggested that particular traditional herbal ingredients may provide some protection against flu, it was the opinion of the FDA/FTC that the language was in violation of current standards.'

Since May 2009, FDA has issued warning letters to more than 75 websites, to stop the sale of more than 135 products with fraudulent H1N1 claims. This week, FDA enhanced its efforts to warn the public about deceptive H1N1 flu products and encourage reporting of such products by releasing an H1N1 influenza fraud widget. The agency says that the hope is that the widget will 'allow the public to play an active role in preventing flu fraud.

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