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Center for Cognitive Health

FDA Cites 17 Companies For Illegally Marketing Dietary Supplements as Treatments For Dementia

For many ailments and conditions, over-the-counter products are readily available to help consumers find relief or treat various medical symptoms. When it comes to the relief and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, there are many false claims being advertised about products that can “cure” the disease. This form of deceptive advertising is misleading vulnerable consumers to purchase fake treatments, and encouraging them to waste money on treatments that have not been properly reviewed by the FDA. “Brain health supplements make up more than $3 billion of the global market, and are predicted to reach $5.8 billion by 2032” (ALZFORUM, 2019).  Why? Because consumers are fearful of developing dementia and experiencing cognitive decline, while others are looking for ways to increase cognitive performance at work or school.

According to ALZFORUM, the press release made by the FDA on February 11, 2019 accused 17 companies of illegally marketing their products as dementia treatments. The supplements included vitamins, minerals, and herbal products. These products are unapproved or misbranded new drugs that claim to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions. Selling them with this misbranding is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA press release can be found here. The full ALZFORUM article can be read here. 

Several prescription drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of people with an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis such as: donepezil (Aricept®), rivastigmine (Exelon®), galantamine (Razadyne®), and memantine (Namenda®) (National Institute on Aging, 2016).  None of these drugs can cure or reverse the disease, but may provide symptom relief.

Clinical trials research is required for the FDA approval of new drugs to make sure they are effective and safe. To see what research opportunities are currently being offered at the Center for Cognitive Health, please fill out the How Can We Help You section at the bottom of this page or call (503) 548-0809. You may meet the criteria needed to help us test the efficacy of new drugs. 

To learn more about protecting yourself from fake treatments, take a look at this article provided by the FDA for consumers.

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet [Internet]. National Institute on Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; [cited 2019Mar15]. Available from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
Dementia Researchers Commend FDA Crackdown on Supplement Hype [Internet]. ALZFORUM. [cited 2019Mar15]. Available from: https://www.alzforum.org/news/community-news/dementia-researchers-commend-fda-crackdown-supplement-hype
Office of the Commissioner. Press Announcements – FDA takes action against 17 companies for illegally selling products claiming to treat Alzheimer’s disease [Internet]. U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Office of the Commissioner; [cited 2019Mar15]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm631064.htm
Office of the Commissioner. Consumer Updates – Watch Out for False Promises About So-Called Alzheimer’s Cures [Internet]. U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Office of the Commissioner; [cited 2019Mar15]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm631046.htm