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Drug company settles case complaining of prostate cancer fear-mongering

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Duff Wilson of the New York Times reports:

The German drug giant Bayer on Tuesday settled complaints by three states that it had deceptively used the fear of prostate cancer to sell One A Day vitamins without proof the pills could prevent prostate cancer.

The settlement, announced by the states and the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, which had also sued, requires Bayer to support all such claims with “competent and reliable scientific evidence.”

Packages of One A Day Men’s Health Formula had said: “Did you know that prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and that emerging research suggests Selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer?”

But a federally financed selenium study did not make any such finding. It was halted in 2008 after concluding Selenium, in fact, did not prevent prostate cancer in a group of relatively healthy men. The study also showed selenium may increase the risk of diabetes.

“The problem is that Congress has removed supplements from F.D.A. oversight,” Mr. Gardner said in an interview Wednesday. “The result is that the supplement industry is running amok making all sorts of completely baseless claims – which are now pretty much being joined by the food companies which are making the same types of nonsense claims about preventing disease.”

caption_323.jpgOn his Pharmalot blog, Ed Silverman pointed out:

“(Illinois’ Attorney General) decried Bayer for trying to increase One A Day sales by “deceptively leveraging fear of prostate cancer and relied on a promotional campaign called “Strike Out Prostate Cancer” that enlisted Major League Baseball as a promotional partner. That effort included billboards, print and broadcast ads, and testimonials from baseball players.”

Somebody struck out alright.

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