Monday, February 25, 2008

4ever trying to rip us off

"4G Antioxidants" is one of the latest food supplements to hit the market. The 4Gs refer to substances contained in each capsule of the product: gingko biloba, grape seed, ginseng, and garlic.

To promote their product there's a health show on radio (more of an infomercial really) that's sponsored by 4G. The hosts of the show, unsurprisingly, constantly plug 4G and recommend it to their audience. The format and objectives of the show are not unlike those of a weekly program on the same radio station where the doctor who co-hosts incessantly, indefatigably, unrestrainedly, unscrupulously tells his listeners and callers week after week to take the products imported by HNC, namely, Liveraide, Fitrum, and My Marvel Taheebo Tea. Now tell me this doctor is not on HNC's payroll.

There's also a 4G tv ad you can vew online. In it you see and hear a young and popular airhead, I mean, actress bubblingly endorsing the product (in other words, reading the script and singing praises in return for an irresistibly handsome wad of lucre). The whole ad is little more than marketing drivel. It claims that 4G "helps protect our bodies from the harmful effects of oxidation and free radicals" thereby preventing disease, strengthening our body, and making us "4ever looking young and 4ever feeling healthy." In other words, we're being sold snake oil. I probably wouldn't have written this entry if not for one claim therein that I simply cannot let pass without unbridled censure.

According to the makers of 4G its product is "all natural so it's proven safe and effective." In that case, since hemlock, ricin, botulin, E. coli, guano, tapeworms, death cap mushroom, among others, are all natural, by 4G's logic they must be safe and effective. To prove this I'd like the board of directors of 4G to take the above, singly or as a cocktail, and show the world once and for all how natural = safe + effective.

I don't know whether to cry or blow my top (perhaps both). How can the mere fact that something is "all natural" lead anyone to conclude it being safe and effective? This is flagrant bad logic. This is flat-out falsehood. It's flim flam. It's a con job! The statement exists simply because the makers/sellers of 4G want to bamboozle the public into believing that their product is "proven safe and effective," giving the silliest of reasons simply to make a sentence.

I see a potential legal case to be made here too. Does the Bureau of Food and Drugs allow ads to claim their product "proven safe and effective" without robust scientific evidence? I should hope not. But then again I am hardly delusional about the ethical integrity of any government agency.

As for the whole antioxidants brouhaha, Dr. Steven Novella has just recently written a piece that addresses the issue of just what the current state of scientific evidence is on this matter. Hop on over to the highly recommended Science-Based Medicine blog and read his Antioxidant Hype and Reality. In one sentence: The jury is still out; there is still much research, studying and testing to be done. Novella's advice: "When it comes to the marketing hype for antioxidant products I can make a clear recommendation--healthy skepticism." I think we can extend that recommendation to all "food supplements" including vitamins. As the late astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan might have said, when it comes to medical hype make sure your baloney detector is switched on and kept on.

9 comments:

Zee said...

wow. such a strong opinion against 4G. i was trying to find out if there really is something that's good in it but i this has made me think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

what a ___!!.....
i just a box of 4G. Now i regret it.

Mercury said...

I pity you.

Mercury said...

I pity you.

Mercury said...

It's such a waste that a person gifted with such mastery of language and emotional prowess was not graced with the guidance of basic logic. Edwardson,let me point out the the fallacies of your argument otherwise known as "argumentum ad misericordiam" or appeal to pity and emotions:

1. The doctors,hosts,talents,abs-cbn,gma network,dzmm,dzbb,radio veritas,salamat doc,buhay at kalusugan and all other elements and institutions in media and advertising are all under HNC payroll.Smart that you are you must know this as a fact of life.But these institutions are not allowed by HNC to throw away their ideals of public service,professionalism and credibility for the logical reason that the treatment of the product by these professionals will redound to the credit or discredit of the HNC brands as mentioned.So HNC ethically regulates its own advertising with proper implementation of the Rules and Regulations of the Advertising Board of the Philippines,now known as the ASC.

2."Proven safe and effective" Yes. The Bureau of Food and Drug allows and regulates the usage of the claims as based on adequate clinical documentation.

3.HNC is not an importer.HNC is a marketing company that creates health awareness campaigns to market products such as Fitrum (developed for the Philippine Market by Roche Nutrition,Lonza and Pfiezer-Capsugel France) Liveraide (developed for HNC by Pfiezer) 4G Antioxidants(Pfiezer-Capsugel) Arthricin (West Coast Naturals of Canada)and Optein Lutein Supplements (DSM Nutrition and Pfiezer Capsugel)

4. Not all "all natural" can claim "safe and effective", as your beautiful mind have figured out.Hemlock,ricin,botulin,E.Coli,Guano,tapeworms,deathcap mushrooms are not in the GRAS list( Generally Recognized as Safe) of the USFDA and thus the BFAD, thus cannot be developed by HNC,Pfiezer,DSM-Roche,Capsugel or other such credible and prestigious companies into supplements.Since the poisonous concoction is your novel idea,please do have it patented.It may just win you that Nobel Prize you've always dreamed of.

Basic Argumentation, Edwardson.Get your facts right before you launch into a debate.Getting it wrong is like going into a cockpit with a duck in hand.

As such dear sir,you're theatrics fall short in the light of reason.Always remember "You are not the center of the solar system; and although you perceive yourself as God's gift to the World...You're not the only smartass in it."

Edwardson said...

Dear Mercury (drug store?), thank you for your vitriolic defense of HNC. You seem to know a lot about HNC's business. Are you a distributor of its products? Please disclose any relation you have to HNC, if any.

Appeal to pity? Duh?!

So did or did HNC not put out on its ad the claim that 4G is "all natural so it's proven safe and effective"? If yes, prove that statement.

Provide the efficacy studies (which you imply exist). And what is 4G effective against exactly anyway? Aging? "Harmful effects of oxidation and free radicals"?

And since you agree that not all natural substances are safe (and effective) and since you brought in ethics in advertizing, tell us as well whether the claim in the ad was ethical or not.

Mercury said...

I will not dignify your rhetorics with an decent answer Edwardson. People like you can't face the fact that with you're brilliance, the only thing you can really do is bitch about on the internet. No matter how much I’d explain the merits of the products to you, you'll only come up with witty anecdotes to conjure up mass emotions. It’ll do you good to run for public office, my boy.

If that wonderful mind of yours is any good, come up with a superior product and stop prattling around like a little girl who's lost her Barbie and telling everybody about it.

Piece of advice: get a life, don’t lose the day job (if you've got one) and if you really want to find out what's wrong with the world... look in the mirror and find a shrink.

Your mind is a beautiful thing to waste.Edwardson, Though replying to people of your stolid wayward opinion is a disgrace to my ideals. I’m just trying to help you.

Ingat ka pre. Good luck on your future ventures. I know that with your gift, you'll be successful and famous someday. I hope you never forget that there are a lot of things out there bigger and better than you. And when you've fought and bettered everybody else...there's always God.

God bless amigo. I wish you good health and hope to meet you in time out in the real world.

Have a nice day.

Ciao.

Edwardson said...

Go back and reread your latest post. Did you address the issue of efficacy of 4G? Where are the scientific studies that prove it? Did you address the issue "all natural so it's proven safe and effective"? Did you address the issue of ethics in having such a fallacious ad dumped on the public?

Your post is totally irrelevant. In short, it's one long winded red herring. Your ad homimens have no bearing on the issues above.

And by the way, I take offense at your "God bless" whatnot. Your bigotry is appaling! Go prove my god does not exist and yours does before foisting your deity upon me.

Edwardson said...

To all: I wanted to view the video again. But apparently the one to which I linked is no longer available. Fortunately, the youtube community has it. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iYX8cdp6Ao. At time 0:44 you will hear Bea Alonzo say, "All natural siya so it's proven safe and effective." Not satisfied? Check out this vid then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFDn2BQ-35o At 6:11 she says--live on air--"All natural kaya safe and effective siya." HNC makes a blatantly fallacious claim. And this Mercury fella has the gall to talk about how ethical HNC is.