FDA Warning Letters
Specific claims varied among the warning letters, but generally included claims related to “reduces anxiety,” “relief of temporary depression or occasional feelings of sadness and melancholy,” and “mood support,” within the context of other claims about depression.
Notably, none of the dietary supplements targeted by the market sweep contain cannabidiol (CBD), which has been an enforcement focus for FDA in the past. Nor do any of the products or claims refer to COVID-19. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDA has conducted other market sweeps of dietary supplements that claim to treat or mitigate symptoms of COVID-19. The claims at issue here are separate from, but still related to the COVID-19 claims. Specifically, in the press release, the Director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs in CFSAN, Steven Tave, explained that the dietary supplements “could potentially harm consumers who use these products instead of seeking proven treatments from qualified health care providers,” which is “especially concerning during the ongoing pandemic, when consumers are even more susceptible to depression and mental health issues.”
The warning letters could suggest an uptick in labeling enforcement on health-related claims and that FDA may conduct other market sweeps in the future. We also expect that that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take a more active role on enforcement matters under the new Administration. Like FDA, the FTC has been predominantly bringing enforcement actions related to COVID-19. We believe FTC may shift its attention toward areas that have been dormant in the last Administration, such as health-related claims and environmental claims (e.g., “recyclable”).
We will continue to monitor FDA and FTC enforcement actions. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Authored by Martin Hahn, Veronica Colas, Anneke Altieri