More than 5,000 Americans are about to get a check in the mail,
after regulators discovered that a Florida-based supplement maker
was peddling an herbal drink mix that it claimed could help treat
The company, Sunrise Nutraceuticals, marketed its Elimidrol
powdered drink mix as having a “high success rate … in
overcoming opiate withdrawal” and said it could help people
“leave addiction behind permanently,” according to a
statement from the Federal Trade Commission.
But the product, which Sunrise sold online
by the tub for $75, contained no ingredients that have been
scientifically proven to help with drug withdrawal or addiction
symptoms. Instead, it was composed mainly of herbal extracts like
lemon balm, ginger root, ginseng, and magnolia bark, plus a
handful of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B and C.
The FTC sued Sunrise for making “deceptive claims”
and is sending refund checks totaling more than $210,000 to
people who bought Elimidrol, many of whom may have been using the
product to help treat addictions to opioid painkillers.
“Opiate addiction has taken a tremendous toll on the American
public,” Jessica Rich, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of
said in a statement. “By peddling their unproven product,
these defendants have prevented people from seeking legitimate
Sunrise is one of hundreds of supplement makers that have been
sued by the FTC for allegedly making bogus health claims.
While supplements might sound harmless, many are unnecessary,
misleading, or even dangerous. The
$37-billion-dollar supplement industry is largely
unregulated; the agencies who oversee it are confined mainly
to reacting once a supplement is found
to have hurt someone or severely misled them. As a result,
pills and powders that are found
to be linked with negative conditions like cancer or kidney
stones may only get recalled after they’ve lingered on
grocery shelves for months.
“In the US, no dietary supplements are pre-screened for safety
and efficacy,” S. Bryn Austin,
a professor of behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan
School of Public Health, told Business Insider. “What that means
is the FDA and consumers have no way to know if what’s in the
bottle or box is what’s on the label. There’s no way to know for
sure that what’s in the product is safe.”
The FTC case against Sunrise is part of the agency’s ongoing work
with the Food and Drug Administration to protect consumers from
misleading health advertising. If you think a claim on a dietary
supplement is false, you can report it to
the FTC. If you’ve had an adverse reaction to a supplement,
report it to the FDA.