A Critical Evaluations of Internet Marketing of Products That Contain Ephedra

Ashar, Bimal H.; Miller, Redonda G.; Getz, Kelly J.; Richard, Carmen P.
August 2003
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Aug2003, Vol. 78 Issue 8, p944
Academic Journal
• Objective: To evaluate information contained within Internet sites that advertise and market dietary supplemerits containing ephedra. • Material and Methods: We conducted an Internet search to identify Web sites advertising weight-loss supplements that contained ephedra. Between July 7 and July 18, 2002, 4 search engines were used by entering the term herbal weight loss. Outcome measures included disclosure of potential adverse effects of or contraindications to ephedra-containing supplements, disclosure of ephedra alkaloid dosage, and presence of misleading or incorrect information. • Results: Thirty-two products and advertisements were identified and systematically evaluated for deviance from truth-in-advertising standards. Of the 32 Web sites analyzed, 13 (41%) failed to disclose potential adverse effects or contraindications to supplement use. Seventeen (53%) did not reveal the dosage of ephedra alkaloids that was recommended. More importantly, 11 sites (34%) contained incorrect or misleading statements, some of which could directly result in serious harm to consumers. • Conclusion: If dietary supplements containing ephedra are to continue to be marketed freely, substantial reform in advertising regulation and enforcement is warranted.


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