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FTC and FDA crackdown of opioid withdrawal scams

Created date

March 2nd, 2018
Pills spill out of an open bottle

Is that opiod withdrawl treatment a scam?

More than two million Americans have an opioid addiction and many will try just about anything to kick the habit. Treatment centers are often hard to get into and the results are not guaranteed, so when someone promotes an easier and more accessible option, it’s no wonder people are eager to try it.

Not surprisingly, some manufacturers looking to cash in on people’s desire to get clean are making fantastic claims about supplements that ease symptoms of withdrawal. Claims such as:

“Safe and effective natural supplements that work to ease many physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal.”

“Imagine a life without the irritability, cravings, restlessness, excitability, exhaustion, and discomfort associated with the nightmare of addiction and withdrawal symptoms.”

“Break the pain killer habit.”

Unproven health claims

It is against the law to make any health claims for a product without first receiving approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). To receive FDA approval, a manufacturer must present scientific evidence that its product is both safe and effective.

In December of 2017, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) investigated companies marketing opioid cessation dietary supplements. They contacted the shady marketers and asked to review the scientific studies proving that the supplements were both safe and effective.

The response was laughable. For example, a representative from NutraCore Health Products, LLC, the company behind Opiate Detox Pro, said, “Scientific studies are very costly, so no, there is no study.”

In response to the CSPI investigation, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the FDA sent warning letters to 11 companies illegally marketing unproven opioid cessation products.   

“Opioid addiction is a serious health epidemic that affects millions of Americans,” says acting FTC chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “Individuals and their loved ones who struggle with this disease need real help, not unproven treatments. We will continue to work together with the FDA to address this important issue.”

“The FDA and FTC’s decision to warn these exploitative companies could save consumers’ lives and is a very welcome step,” says CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie. “These ineffective withdrawal aids pose an imminent danger to very vulnerable consumers who are desperate to treat their opioid addiction.”

The cited products included Opiate Freedom 5-Pack, Mitadone, CalmSupport, TaperAid, Natracet, Opiate Detox Pro, Withdrawal Support, Soothedrawal, Nofeel, GUNA-ADDICT 1, and AddictaPlex.

If you or someone you know needs help with opioid withdrawal, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year service offering treatment referral and information (in English and Spanish) for people and families facing substance use disorders.

For help finding a reputable treatment facility, visit
findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

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