Do you know of any senior living residents taking supplements believing that they will prevent memory-related diseases? If so, a new report from the Government Accountability Office suggests that they would benefit from being educated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission about federal oversight of such products.
The FDA and FTC agree with the GAO’s recommendations for improved consumer education efforts made in the report, according to the GAO.
The FDA and FTC share oversight of labeling and advertising claims related to memory care supplements but generally do not approve such claims before the products are marketed, the GAO noted in its report, publicly released on Thursday.
Consumers who have complaints about the supplements, their sellers or product marketing may not know which agency to contact, thwarting the government’s ability to address issues, the agency said.
So who is responsible for what? The FDA oversees labeling matters, including information presented at the point of sale, whereas the FTC deals with deceptive advertising.
In a two-month market review, the GAO identified 490 memory supplements, approximately 96% of them marketed on the internet. The agency said it found 28 examples of advertisements that linked supplement use to the treatment or prevention of memory-related diseases, claims generally prohibited by federal law — supplements are considered food products, not drugs. The FDA subsequently determined that 27 of the examples appeared to violate federal requirements.
Dietary supplements claiming to improve memory are a growing market, with sales of approximately $643 million in 2015, almost twice as much as those in 2006, according to the report.