FTC Wants to Level the Playing Field

August 9, 2012 By

By Heather VanBlarcom
General Counsel & Senior Regulatory Specialist for Dietary Supplements

At the NBJ Summit last week in Dana Point, CA, David C. Vladeck, the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Bureau of Consumer Protection, told the audience that, “Our main job is to protect consumers from products that cause safety concerns.” The Bureau works to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices.

As the “dietary supplement police,” Vladeck said he hopes to “level the playing field” for those companies in the industry that are doing everything right. Vladeck acknowledged that there are dietary supplement companies out there trying to be good citizens, but that unfortunately, we live in a target rich environment. The dietary supplement industry has companies who invest in the measures necessary to maintain compliance while many others cut corners and roll the dice in the hopes that their non-compliance will go undetected.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to the government entities charged with enforcing the laws, consumer safety is not a partisan issue. Therefore, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election this November, the FTC’s enforcement strategies are going to continue to be as “vigorous as they have been in the last few years,” according to Vladeck. The FTC will be issuing more warning and closing letters and consent decrees. The FTC consent decrees will continue to define “competent and reliable scientific evidence” in an effort to make enforcing them easier. According to Vladeck, “competent and reliable scientific evidence” is not a trivial standard and requires real rigor. The extent of the science necessary is dependent on the nature of the claims being made. Vladeck’s advice, “If you are going to make claims, be willing and able to back them up.”

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