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FTC clamps down on web sites


The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Web site operators this week that products promoted as treating anthrax must be removed from the Internet. In a statement the FTC stressed that substances such as oregano oil or zinc mineral water that claim to treat illnesses like anthrax have in fact no scientific proof behind the claims. With the help of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the FTC carried out a coordinated Internet "surf" and found sites touting products and therapies that claim to prevent, treat, or cure anthrax, smallpox, and other health hazards. More than 200 sites marketing bioterrorism-related products were uncovered, and additional sites are being evaluated for possible warning letters. About 40 e-mail warnings were sent informing operators of these sites to pull the information immediately. The FTC staff will follow up by revisiting the targeted sites to determine whether the changes have been made. Operators who continue to make deceptive or misleading claims face possible prosecution for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). According to the FTC statement, a broad coalition of trade associations representing the dietary supplement industry has indicated that there is no scientific basis for the promotion of dietary supplements as a treatment for anthrax.

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