Press Release, 22 September 2014

Coalition Demands General Ban on Drug Promotion

BAYER: “Marketing Nutritional Supplements is Irresponsible”

The Coalition Against BAYER Dangers claims that the company's advertising campaign for the multi-vitamin supplement BEROCCA is irresponsible because there are no respectable surveys concerning the supplement's effectiveness. Overdoses might also cause damage to health. BAYER began marketing BEROCCA in more than 50 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and Korea, and has now started sales in the US. Its current campaign stars Joel McHale.

BEROCCA contains a dubious mixture of B vitamins, guarana, caffeine, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium. The supplement is especially advertised as a hangover cure. However, a 2005 study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that, “no compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover.” A more recent 2010 study came to the same conclusion.

BEROCCA has not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration for safety and accuracy of its claims. To prove the alleged effectiveness of BEROCCA, BAYER quotes a self-financed survey, in which employees of the company were involved. Even the authors point out that the validity of their findings is doubtful. Only last week the US government said that BAYER is making unsupported claims in advertisements for a dietary supplement designed to help with digestion (see below).

The Coalition Against BAYER Dangers, which has been monitoring BAYER for 35 years, demands a ban on advertising for drugs and nutritional supplements. Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition's board says: "All marketing of drugs should be made illegal. Efficient drugs will always prevail - surveys, professional journals and the actual experience of medical practitioners will make sure of that. The ubiquitous marketing is what pushes unnecessary and even dangerous drugs on to the market."

Mimkes' opinion is that information about drugs should be in the hands of independent scientists and authorities, not those of profit-driven companies. A ban on advertising could significantly lower the price of drugs because the pharmaceutical industry uses up to 40% of its revenue for marketing purposes.

Using the brand name ONE-A-DAY, BAYER sells numerous nutritional supplements in the United States. Those supplements have not been proved to be effective in any way. According to advertisements, they strengthen the heart and immune defence, are beneficial for the eyes and provide more energy for the body. Promises like that have helped the company to achieve a revenue of more than one billion euros in the nutritional supplements area in 2013. The company has had to pay several fines in the US because of deceptive advertising.

The nutritional supplements business is subject to little legal regulation. Producers are not obliged to carry out clinical studies of the drugs' effectiveness and possible risks before marketing them. Nutrition experts point out that the consequences of unhealthy eating cannot be compensated for through nutritional supplements. According to them, a balanced diet provides all of the important nutrients, and supplements should only be consumed if a deficit has been diagnosed.

see also: Useless “Bayer's Tonic” still on the market in India

September 15, 2014

Bayer colon supplement makes bogus claims

The United States government accuses German pharmaceutical giant Bayer of making scientifically unproven statements about the health benefits of a popular probiotic

The US government says Bayer is making unsupported claims in advertisements for its dietary supplement “Phillips' Colon Health” designed to help with digestion, in violation of a federal court order.

In a filing lodged in New Jersey, the Justice Department requested a fine of $25,000 per day, alleging Bayer had breached a 2007 judgement against the firm over a similar issue involving another product. The Justice Department filing sought to "halt consumers' continuing loss."

In 2007, Bayer was ordered to pay $3.2 million over claims made without evidence regarding benefits of its multivitamin "One A Day Men's". Bayer pledged to stop making unsubstantiated claims for similar over-the-counter products.

The Justice Department therefore argues the 2007 judgement should also apply to "Phillips' Colon Health", launched in 2008, which purports to "prevent, treat and cure" constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. Federal officials say the company does not have reliable scientific evidence to support those claims.

The government's motion highlights the company's multimillion-dollar print and television campaign featuring "the Colon Lady," a spokeswoman who asks people about their colon health. "The United States estimates consumers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars for this product. Because of Bayer's widespread, unsubstantiated efficacy claims in violation of this Court's 2007 Order, consumers should be compensated for their loss," the 37-page Justice Department filing said.

“Bayer is required to abide by a longstanding court order to back up claims it makes about the products it sells,” Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery said in a prepared statement. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate companies that seek to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by promoting to consumers unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of their products.”