"Likes" put Zarbee's in FDA crosshairs
“Liking” Facebook comments has landed OTC remedy maker Zarbee's on the FDA's dislike list. The regulator sent a Warning Letter to the manufacturer of products including Zarbee's Naturals Children's Cough Syrup + Mucus Relief, Zarbee's Naturals Children's Cough Syrup Nighttime and Zarbee's Naturals Children's Sleep over a host of online behaviors that the Food and Drug Administration says cross a line which puts the company's products firmly on its turf: drugs.
While kid-friendly bee packaging and ingredient lists comprised of items such as grapefruit seed extract and honey would appear to put the treatments in the “supplements” category, the FDA's letter shows that a recipe is not enough to keep a product off its watch list if product claims—and in this case endorsement of third-party claims— make it appear as though the maker is OK with language that indicates the treatment is a drug, which means it can cure, ameliorate or prevent a condition.
The list of transgressions includes liking comments such as “I've been battling either bronchitis or pneumonia for the last 18 days and have tried everything... [m]y throat and chest are beginning to feel better” and “I have a daughter born with cerebral palsy and she suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome... [s]he took the samples you sent and slept through the night” because the agency considers the thumbs-up tantamount to “recommending or describing” the products as a cure or treatment that eases a condition.
Twitter postings “Try @Zarbees #naturalremedies for Cold and Cough Season” and “RT@MomCentral Have you tried #ZarbeesCough for cold and cough relief” also put the company on the FDA's naughty list because they “provide further evidence that your products are intended to be used as drugs.”