Truth in Advertising October 23, 2013Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants, Uncategorized.
Tags: advertising, homeopathy, quackery, Skepticism
OK, so a week ago Sunday the Parade Magazine that came in The Washington Post ran this ad. (Sorry my scan is a little blurry. Click on the photo to see it more clearly.)
One line of medicines to treat all these different conditions? Suspicious. So I read over the ad to see what kind of medication this was. No mention of it in the main text, but when I went and got a magnifying glass, and looked at the images of the packaging, there it was in the upper right-hand corner. Illegible to the naked eye, and almost as bad under magnification. It said “homeopathic.”
Can you see it?
I went to the website for this company, and it was also pretty difficult there to figure out that they were selling homeopathic “remedies”. I thought that there ought to be some kind of oversight to prevent this sort of fraud, but this was during the government shutdown, so maybe they were taking advantage of the lack of regulators. But I needed to complain to somebody, and Rite-Aid’s logo was right there on the page, so I found their ethics complaint website, and sent in the following:
On Sunday, October 15, the attached advertisement ran in the print edition Parade Magazine which I received with my Washington Post, and as you can see this ad had your name and logo in the lower left-hand corner.
I spent some time reading the ad, attempting to determine what sort of medication this was, and what the active ingredients were. Eventually, I got out a magnifier and was able to just make out that each package was labeled “homeopathic”. Nowhere else in the ad could I find this indicated, and the labels were illegible without magnification. It appears that this ad is deliberately concealing the nature of what is being sold, a dishonest practice.
Homeopathic preparations generally do not contain any measurable level of active ingredients, and clinical trials have shown them to be no more effective than a placebo. While I understand that there is a market for such products, a major pharmacy should not give the impression that it endorses their use.
If Rite-Aid allows its name to be associated with an advertisement for a medication, I would expect that the ad would meet at least a minimum standard of honesty about the identity and efficacy of the product. I would expect that the word “homeopathic” to appear legibly in the ad, and that there be a disclaimer such as “these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA” or “The FDA does not evaluate these remedies for safety or effectiveness,” or a disclaimer that Rite-Aid does not guarantee anything beyond their safety and lack of side effects.
Considering that this company, Magnilife, is using your name and logo to sell boxes of sugar pills for $20 each, they stand to make quite a profit off the reputation of Rite-Aid. I ask, as a concerned consumer, that you respond as to whether their use of your logo and name was authorized, and what your policy is regarding truth in advertising in ads that bear your name.
As of today, I have heard nothing back from Rite-Aid. If I do get a response (and I doubt that I will), I’ll post an update.
Update – I checked at the Rite-Aid website on 10/31/13, and as of yet they have given no response.