NAD Conducts Another Inquiry Into Implied COVID-19 Claims

Advertising Law

The National Advertising Division (NAD) continues to be active with cases involving COVID-19 claims. On October 13, the NAD announced that Vitamin Bounty/Matherson Organics, LLC (Vitamin Bounty), voluntarily discontinued Instagram and Facebook social media posts for its Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support, which the NAD determined conveyed implied claims about boosting immunity to protect users against COVID-19 and to treat the disease.

As part of its routine monitoring program, the NAD requested substantiation for the following claim:

As restrictions are gradually lifting, it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system strong. Our Elderberry Immune Support keeps you protected with vitamin C, zinc, elderberries, garlic and echinacea; a powerful immune-boosting combo.

When Vitamin Bounty did not respond to the NAD’s request, the NAD referred the case to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for review. Following the referral, Vitamin Bounty returned to the NAD and agreed to participate in the advertising self-regulatory forum.

Vitamin Bounty then voluntarily discontinued the social media post in question, as well as additional social media posts on Facebook that made similar implied claims about the ability of Vitamin Bounty Elderberry Immune Support to boost immunity to treat COVID-19.

In its decision, the NAD stated, “Health and safety concerns are a top priority for NAD’s monitoring efforts, with particular attention currently focused on advertising for dietary supplements and other products claiming to treat [the] novel coronavirus.”

The NAD noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA have both stated that there are currently no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products available to treat or prevent COVID-19. The NAD also noted that both the FDA and the FTC have issued dozens of warning letters over the past few months to companies making claims about their products’ ability to treat or prevent COVID-19.

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