article The superfood supplements marketed by the US pharmaceutical company Merck & Co are so powerful, they’re now selling on the streets, with no need for a prescription.
But a review of the company’s literature and testimonials suggests that the products have a lot of hype and that consumers may be being misled by the products’ ingredients and marketing.
Dr. Joanne Sarnoff, a medical nutritionist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said she was worried that the industry was making too much money off of products marketed as “natural” and that people were being misled.
“I don’t know what’s causing all this hype, but I’m concerned that people are purchasing these products without knowing the ingredients or what they’re really taking,” Sarnoffs said.
She added that Merck had “a history of making misleading claims” and is “generally not truthful” about its products.
A review of Merck’s literature shows the company sells products that claim to provide nutrients for a variety of conditions including pain, depression, muscle spasms, inflammation and allergies.
Some of the products claim to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
One product claims to treat high blood pressure, and another claims to lower cholesterol.
The company also sells products with names like Nourishing Spleen, Fertilizing Extract, and Vitamins and Minerals.
However, Dr. Michael Burt of the University at Albany in New York said there’s a lot more to the products than just the names.
“[Merck’s] advertising does not provide the information that it claims it does, and that’s something that I’m very concerned about,” Burt said.
“The company has done a great job in not saying much about the ingredients in these products.
They’ve said that they’re going to make sure you don’t take the wrong one or take the right one,” he said.
“I think they’ve really gone overboard in not providing information on what’s actually in these ingredients.
And if that’s the case, it’s really not something that should be part of a product’s marketing.”
The Merck supplement industry was once viewed as a lucrative source of revenue, but its financial fortunes have since been hit hard by the recession, and it has been forced to rely on smaller, less lucrative distributors.
Sarnoffs, who specializes in vitamin and mineral supplements, said Merck may be using these new products as a way to cash in on its growing market share.
In addition to selling supplements that claim they’re “natural,” Merck sells supplements for health-related conditions such as osteoarthritis, cancer and arthritis.
But the company also markets products that are “non-prescription,” such as the anti-inflammatory Nourish Spleen.
According to a Merck promotional video for Nourishes Spleen: Nourish, a powerful extract from the Nervosa rosea plant, is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammation, and antibacterial, with the ability to support your bones, muscles, skin, nails and hair.
You can purchase Nouries Spleen in 2g capsules, 1g tablet or 2g powder form at retail pharmacies and at most grocery stores.
For more information, visit the Merck website.
Read more articles by Betsy DeRosa