Those that write about food supplements, which are actually classified as pharmaceuticals already in some
European countries, risk having their published information viewed as illegal marketing materials and subject to
criminal proceedings according to the European court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on April 2, 2009.
In fact, the ECJ found that any information that promotes unauthorised medicinal claims can
be construed as illegal product marketing, after a Danish journalist, Frede Damgaard, was found to have “illegally”
disseminated information about a banned rosehip powder-based, multi-benefit product called Hyben Total.
MySpace’ers, Facebook’ers, Twitter’ers and Bloggers should also beware. This ruling could even apply to
independent articles written by journalists as well as content provided on online social networks and product review
sites by the likes of consumers, bloggers and Twitter’ers, said the defence counsel in the case, Susie S. Ekstrand,
of the Danish law firm, Lett who said;
“This ruling is significant because it means anything written about a product that may be deemed
medicinal in one member state, can be deemed inappropriate and consequences may follow for the
author. We were surprised by this ruling because we thought a commercial interest in the product in
question would have to be demonstrated, but the ECJ has ruled otherwise,” she added. “It is a restriction of
freedom of speech and journalists need to be careful now, especially those writing online across many
Ekstrand gave an example of a journalist writing about the joint benefits of glucosamine, which is classed as a drug The Court blatantly disavowed the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms stating that
in Denmark. Since such claims are forbidden in Denmark, a writer in that situation could find herself in legal hot
the freedom of expression rights contained within it were subject to; “certain limitations justified by objectives in the public interest”.
Further, the Court found that even unbiased, third party statements about products could also be construed as advertising under the 2001
Medicines Directive “even though the third party in question is acting on his own initiative and completely independently, de jure and de
facto, of the manufacturer and the seller of such a medicinal product.”
The European Union’s highest court said it was for member state jurisdictions to interpret its ruling although it agreed with an earlier
Danish court ruling against Damgaard, which fined the freelance journalist about €1500.
That verdict is certainly being appealed.
The European Court of Justice ruling text can be found here.
While this may appear to be the first major government move in support of the EU Food Supplement Directive’s ridiculous restrictions
coming from Europe, the US, not to be eclipsed by its European allies, already launched its first volley when the FDA issued ‘cease and
desist’ letters to natural health manufacturers for what THEY were saying about products on their web sites late last year.
And interestingly, the naysayers and even natural health associations have stopped enthusiastically asserting that the natural health industry
is going to continue to do well even with the EU Food Supplement Directives and Codex moving forward. The ones that continue to say so
– well, you’ll find Merck, Pfizer, Lilly and Johnson and Johnson executives and employees on their boards.
I suggest you write cancel on their next membership dues invoice.
Key Consumer Actions:
Let your government representatives know YOUR position
Help support WINHS
And review the WINHS web site periodically for updates and to keep you up to speed with what the WINH and our associated campaign
organizations have been doing to protect freedom of choice in 2009.
Rudi C. Loehwing
World Institute of Natural Health Sciences
See Related article
- The EU Food Supplements Directive
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- Alzheimer's drugs double death risk in elderly
- The "Business" of Drugs: Not to be outdone by Eli Lilly, Pfizer raises the Settlement Bar on Criminal Off Label Marketing of
Drugs to $2.3 Billion
- The "Business" of Drugs: Pfizer may be hit with another $153 million in potential legal fines for Medicaid fraud
- The "Business" of Drugs: Seroquel's Falsified Studies Exposed
- The "Business" of Drugs: Pharmaceutical "Cocktails" Found in Fish Near Major U.S. Cities
UPDATE: The European Court of Justice, Following EU Food Supplements
Directive Mandates, Takes on Food Supplement Health Claims
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