• The San Juan Daily Star

Over 20 items sold as supplements removed from shelves

By The Star Staff

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO), along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), visited numerous island businesses earlier this week to remove deceptive ads related to the sale of dietary supplements and stimulants promoted as natural.

“This joint initiative stems from a core objective that DACO and the FDA share, which is to ensure that consumer confidence is not circumvented with false promises or [claims] whose veracity cannot be verified, which could represent a health risk, in addition to affecting our economy,” said DACO Secretary Edan Rivera Rodríguez in a written statement.

Pharmacies, gas stations, “sex shops,” and stores specializing in vitamin supplements were part of the operation that took place Tuesday. As of noon, a total of 24 businesses distributed throughout the San Juan metropolitan area had been impacted and, in total, 50 businesses throughout the metro area were visited and a total of 26 notices of infringement were issued.

Rivera Rodríguez said “the fact that a product is available over the counter does not make it harmless.”

“Also, the one that contains an ingredient perceived as favorable to health does not make it a miracle cure,” he said. “That is why our regulations define as misleading any practice that induces the consumer to make a purchase using false or scientifically unproven information.”

As a result of the operation, as of noon Tuesday, about 20 products that do not comply with the applicable regulations had been identified, which led to the issuance of the corresponding infringement notices. Regarding the products around which some illegality was identified, the immediate withdrawal of their display for sale was required.

“Protecting the health and safety of consumers is the FDA’s highest priority, and we will heed warnings about products and companies that put the public at risk,” said Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, who clarified that “products with unapproved claims that promise to cure, treat or prevent a health condition can potentially harm consumers who use these products instead of seeking effective treatments, such as drugs approved by the FDA.”

The focus of the visits was on verifying two major aspects of consumer protection: 1) deceptive packaging practices or the way of promoting, at sales sites, the attributes of certain supplements; and 2) the display for sale of products with ingredients for which the FDA has issued an alert.

The representatives of both agencies expressed satisfaction with the result of the strategic alliance established for the operation.

“We trust in continuing to develop joint projects and initiatives that allow us to provide greater consumer protection; which is, ultimately, what both agencies are looking for,” the DACO chief said.

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