A tough pill to swallow


February 13, 2019

The FDA has its regulatory torch set on the $40B dietary supplement market.
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A new sheriff in town: The FDA to crack down on the $40B dietary supplement industry

As new startups increasingly flood the supplement market, the Food and Drug Administration vowed to improve its monitoring of the $40B+ dietary supplement industry.

On Monday, FDA chief Scott Gottlieb announced the agency was ready to crack down on manufacturers that falsely plug the abilities of their “remedies.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night” is a bad phrase

People have been drinking the supplement snake oil since the ’30s — back when rickets and scurvy ravaged the streets.

But the supplement biz got really suspect after the passage of a ’94 federal law that minimized reporting and labeling requirements for vitamin, mineral and herb manufacturers — a still fledgling industry at the time. 

To prevent a company from selling a product, the law still requires the FDA to prove that it is unsafe. Problem is, there are now somewhere between 50k and 80k dietary supplements on the market.

Spoiler alert: Supplements don’t cure cancer

The FDA says that 3 of every 4 American consumers now take dietary supplements regularly — mostly due to the way supplement companies target specific “at-risk” demographics.

Last month, a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded most of the supplements that claim to help prevent Alzheimer’s, dementia and cancer, well… don’t.

While lobbying for Congress to strengthen the FDA’s authority over the supplement industry, Gottlieb specifically warned 12 of the major companies (including TEK Naturals, Pure Nootropics and Sovereign Laboratories) to stop claiming their products can cure diseases.

New year, new FDA

When Scott Gottlieb was first sworn in as the new head of the FDA in 2017, his ties to the big pharma industry had many rolling their eyes at what they saw as yet another regulatory puppet thrown into the White House cabinet.

But, so far, Gottlieb has made good on the Congress-sworn statements he made, promising to clean up the shady streets of medical miscreants, including threatening Altria and Juul’s partnership with an iron fist last month.

In recent years, the FDA has also cracked down on several sectors of the supplement industry including weight-loss and sexual enhancement supplements. 

Still waiting for the ‘Limitless’ pill
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Fraud and abuse are still common in Google and Apple app stores

According to new reports from The Washington Post and TechCrunch, Apple and Google still host dozens of illegal and abusive apps in their app stores, despite efforts to clean up their act.

After struggling to rein in fraud for years, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store increased security. But that hasn’t stopped porn apps, illegal gambling apps, and apps that abuse women from thriving in their e-stores.

The long, dirty process of cleaning up app stores

Early online stores were app-solutely awful: Apps to rate women, pay people for fake reviews, trash talk other people, scam users, and harvest data were rampant.

Apple was the first to try to clean things up, removing more than 47k apps and tightening up its screening process in September 2016. The next month, Google rolled out a new system to detect fraudulent apps.

But, nefarious apps have still slipped through the cracks

Dozens of porn apps and illegal gambling apps sneaked into Apple’s App Store by gaming its Enterprise Certificate program designed to let large companies build in-house employee apps.

Both Google and Apple host an app called Absher, an app that helps men track and control women in Saudi Arabia (where it’s still illegal for women to travel without the approval of a male “guardian”).

Of course, part of what makes it so difficult for Google and Apple to police their own stores is the sheer scale: At the end of last year, Google’s Play Store featured more than 2.1m apps and Apple’s App Store had more than 2m.

» Talk about an app to the face

Oh, how far we’ve come: Hotels are now offering fresh air as an amenity

The New York Times reports that a growing number of global hotels are now floating guests the top-shelf option to book rooms with premium air filtration and purification systems, in an effort to cut down on the current global haze of climatic craziness.

But it isn’t science fiction, it’s real life, and the air’s getting bad, y’all — starring natural disasters and corporate mitt prints (featuring many costars) — and you best believe the Big Hotel biz is gonna inhale the breezy opportunities that follow.

Smoggy stink sells

Last year, the World Health Organization reported that 91% of the world eats polluted air for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — largely blanketing top “urban destinations” around the world… Necessity, CHECK.

Hotels are buying in: The hotel wellness company Pure Wellness’ “Pure Room” (featuring natural fumigation) spans 300 hotels globally across several companies including Marriott, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and Hyatt.

Wellness tech company Delos has designed more than 1k hotel rooms globally with its wall-mounted air-purification filters — a brand standard across all 50 Wyndham hotel and resort locations in North America. The list goes on.

A serious situation marked at a premium

Some hotels dippin’ into the business of fresh air are charging a 5% to 7% premium for rooms with filtration and purification systems.

Clean air has become a luxury because it was treated as a given for so long — but now people are coughin’ up the price in more ways than one.

» Ack! Pollution tax.

A royal pain in the buns: The unlikely winner of Europe’s battle for the Big Mac

Supermac’s, an Irish fast-food chain with a burger called the Mighty Mac, was so sick of never-ending legal beef with McDonald’s that it did something crazy: It sued McDonald’s for the right to Mac.

Even crazier? In a sizzle heard ‘round the world, Supermac’s won. And, after McD’s lost its Big Mac trademark in Europe, a whole bunch of burger bashing began.

David vs. Burger-liath

Pat McDonagh started Supermac’s in 1978 and has since expanded his Mighty Mac business to 106 locations. But, McDonald’s’ legal threats stopped Supermac’s in its burger tracks.

European regulators ruled that McDonald’s failed to prove “genuine use” of its trademark in the preceding 5 years.  

“It’s a unique victory when you take on the golden arches and win,” McDonagh, Supermac’s managing director, told The Guardian

The tables have turned for the world’s biggest burger bully

It was a rare loss for McDonald’s, a well-known trademark tyrant that has registered names such as “Mac Internet” and “Mac Country” just because

Meanwhile, the lost trademark has opened the flame broiled floodgates: Burger King immediately changed the names of its burgers to “The Burger Big Mac Wished it Was” and “The Anything But a Big Mac” at several European locations.

A spokesperson told reporters that McDonald’s plans to appeal the decision and reclaim its Big Mac-opoly. But for now, McDonagh told the BBC, “This is the end of the McBully.”

» Guess who’s Mac
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These sleeping virtuosos achieve peak physical performance by first achieving peak snooze with the perfect bed temperature.

Meanwhile, in an effort to do the same, us Regular Rhondas have either been tossing and turning on hot foam mattress or going deaf from the drone of 7 fans trying to cool down.

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Take the 30-day Sleep Fit Challenge and see for yourself

Eight Sleep has created a 4-week program using their new bed to help you overhaul the way you sleep and feel.

Their app will ask you a few questions to find the right temperature level for your Eight Sleep Pod. Then, they’ll help you develop a schedule, ensure you’re getting enough hours, optimize your sleep environment, and finish with some important add-ons (like encouraging daily exercise) until you’re sleeping — and feeling — like a 10X Biathlon World Champion. 

Did we mention their bed integrates with other smart home items like Alexa, Google Home, and even Wemo coffee makers? 

It’s the kind of sleep we’ve been dreaming about… *cue rimshot*

Take the challenge → deals, deals, deals

“For everything there is a return policy.”

– English Proverb

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