Trade associations applaud FDA for protecting consumers from fraudulent COVID-19 supplement claims

April 10, 2020

Four of the leading trade associations issued a release commending FDA for taking action to protect consumers by calling out marketers that make illegal and unsubstantiated drug claims related to COVID-19.

Four of the leading trade associations representing the U.S. dietary supplement industry issued a release commending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for taking action to protect consumers by calling out marketers that make illegal and unsubstantiated drug claims related to COVID-19. In February, the industry issued a strong warning to companies and consumers to avoid marketing or using dietary supplements that are presented as treating, curing, or preventing COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, FDA has sent warning letters to 16 companies with claims that their products can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. The agency has cited language on the companies’ websites and social media channels as evidence of these deceptive claims. The industry applauds FDA for taking swift action and urges continued aggressive prosecution against products being promoting with illegal and unsubstantiated claims of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. 

While research supports the use of certain dietary supplements to maintain healthy immune system responses, there are no clinical research studies that demonstrate the efficacy of using a dietary supplement specifically to prevent or to treat COVID-19. Even if research is conducted and published on this topic, the law that regulates dietary supplements in the United States, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education (DSHEA) Act of 1994, prohibits marketers of dietary supplements from promoting any dietary supplement product by making disease prevention or treatment claims.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA; Silver Springs, MD), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA; Washington, D.C.), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA; Salt Lake City, UT) in February endorsed the following unified advisory for marketers and retailers, as well as for consumers of dietary supplements:

• Marketers and retailers of dietary supplements should refuse to stock or sell any supplements that are presented as treating, curing or preventing COVID-19. 

• Marketers and retailers should refrain from promoting any dietary supplement as a cure, treatment, or prevention for COVID-19.

• Consumers should avoid any product that is claiming to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19 and report such products to FDA.

• Anyone who believes they may have COVID-19 or may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus should contact a healthcare professional immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information on the coronavirus disease and the proper actions to take if you suspect you are ill.

Each trade association and its member companies prioritize the safety and well-being of consumers above all else.