Industry Coalition Reissues Advisory Against Use of Dietary Supplements as Swine Flu Remedy, Cure

Key trade organizations reiterate earlier endorsement of unified advisory for marketers, retailers, and consumers of dietary supplements

Washington, D.C. (December 7, 2009)—The trade associations of the dietary supplement industry today reaffirmed the industry’s support for the responsible sale and use of health-promoting vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary supplements. As noted in a similar statement issued on May 1, 2009, these organizations are unaware of any scientific data supporting the use of dietary supplements to treat the H1N1 virus (popularly known as “swine flu”), and recognize that federal law does not allow dietary supplements to claim to treat any diseases, including H1N1.

These associations also note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued 147 warning letters since May to companies marketing products – from air filters and face masks to shampoos and supplements – for prevention or cure of H1N1 flu. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) are re-releasing the following unified advisory for marketers and retailers, as well as for consumers of dietary supplements:

  • Marketers and retailers of dietary supplements are urged to refuse to stock or sell any supplements that are presented as treating or curing H1N1, and
  • Marketers and retailers should refrain from promoting any dietary supplement as a cure or treatment for H1N1.
  • Anyone who believes they may have H1N1 or may have come in contact with the virus should contact a healthcare professional. More information on swine flu and the proper actions to take if you suspect you are ill is available on the Centers for Disease Control Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm.

There are dietary supplements that have much to offer in terms of enhancing general immune function. However, therapies for the treatment of swine flu should only be recommended by qualified healthcare professionals or public health authorities.

The organizations supporting this advisory represent the majority of dietary supplement manufacturers. Each of the associations and its member companies remain committed to providing the American public with high quality products for supporting personal health and permitting “self-care” choices, and encourage FDA and FTC to continue to take aggressive enforcement action against companies that are illegally marketing supplement products to treat the H1N1 virus. Each of the associations is also committed to recognizing that there are some health conditions for which the choice of self-care should be actively discouraged. The current global outbreak of the H1N1 virus is such a condition.

Contact: Elizabeth Funderburk, 202.429.3520


CHPA is the 128-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements.