The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is protecting consumer rights in a bold new way–by policing companies’ Facebook pages.
Zarbee’s Naturals, a producer of “safe and effective natural [cough] remedies” for children, was sent a warning letter by the FDA for liking comments on its Facebook page implying that its products “are intended for use as drugs.”
Zarbee’s products were designed specifically for children too young for FDA-approved medications and have not been reviewed by the FDA. Happy customers posted their approval on the company’s Facebook page, saying things like “Love Zarbee’s this is the only medicine we use for our 2 year old. Colds and congestion clear up in 2 days,” and “Received the sample for allergy relief and my husband had a terrible problem with allergies … he was very impressed on how well it worked for him.”
Zarbee’s, naturally, liked the comments, which the FDA thinks was a step too far. (RELATED: Kellogg Ex-CEO Says FDA Is Attacking Food Industry)
“Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses,” the letter says, arguing that the company’s “likes” constitute an admission that its products are “new drugs” that require FDA approval.
The FDA considers anything “intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease” a drug, so although Zarbee’s cough syrup contains no dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in popular over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin, the FDA objects to such claims about Zarbee’s products’ usefulness.
The FDA also called out Zarbee’s Twitter feed, objecting to dangerous tweets such as “Try @Zarbees #naturalremedies for Cold and Cough Season.”
“Your products ‘Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Cough Syrup+Mucus Relief,’ ‘Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Cough Syrup Nighttime,’ and ‘Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep’ are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners… Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in legal action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction.” (RELATED: FDA Approves Suspended Animation Human Trials)