Group says sex supplement claims are false
September 23 2004 11:00 PM ET
Pro-Erex. Big Daddy. Suregasm. There is little doubt as to what these supplements are promising, but the evidence that they actually can enlarge a man's penis or enhance sexual performance falls short, consumer advocates said Wednesday. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, best known for revealing nutritional facts about Chinese take-out and ice cream, is taking on the nonprescription sex supplement industry. The CSPI filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission saying one company, Cincinnati-based Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, had crossed the line in television ads touting its supplement Enzyte. "The FTC requires that advertising claims for dietary supplements, including those based on testimonials of users, 'be backed by sound, scientific evidence.' Berkeley, however, has conceded that it has no scientific studies of Enzyte substantiating any of Berkeley's claims," says the complaint. A spokesman for Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals was not immediately available.
Under U.S. law, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the way prescription drugs are, and makers have much leeway in designing products and in writing vaguely worded claims about what they do. They may not, however, lie outright without risking FTC action, although in reality the agency cannot check on every product.
The CSPI says tests show that some of the ingredients in Enzyte may or may not work to enhance sexual performance. "One study suggests that 5,000 milligrams daily of arginine may lead to a subjective improvement in sexual function," the group's complaint says. "However, as Enzyte's label says each tablet contains 1,494 milligrams of its proprietary blend (all ingredients other than niacin, zinc, and copper), it is not possible that Enzyte contains the amounts of those ingredients that may be necessary to increase libido or sexual performance, if, indeed, those ingredients provide a benefit at any dose."
"The Food and Drug Administration and the FTC have been lax when it comes to policing these so-called sex supplements," said David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the nonprofit CSPI. "Until they act, consumers are best advised to drag any unsolicited e-mails from 'Mr. Gigantic' or 'Mr. Thick' from the inbox to the trash." (Reuters)