Al-Mondhiry discussed common themes in cases that are increasing across the supplement space. And though the courts have typically sided with the defendant or supplement company, she urged caution, and advised attendees to be increasingly aware of current trends and case precedents in the space.
1) False & Deceptive LabelingThere has been a rise in cases related FD&C Act compliance. Allegations are primarily tied to state law and regulation. Even where labeling or the product is compliant, Al-Mondhiry said, claims may be misleading. Due to this, noncompliance doesn’t mean the case will succeed. It is fact- and context-specific.
2) Structure/Function ClaimsAl-Mondhiry presented case examples, includingGreenberg v. Target Corp., (9th Cir. 2021) targeting a biotin supplement with the claim “helps support healthy hair and skin.” Greenberg filed a putative class action under California’s Unfair Competition Law, alleging that most people do not benefit from biotin supplementation, making the labels deceptive. The panel affirmed summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer and distributors. There is substantiation that biotin “helps support healthy hair and skin,” so that statement was truthful, not misleading, and is a permissible structure/function claim.
Al-Mondhiry summed it up: “Simply put, manufacturers may make structure/function claims about a nutrient’s general role on the human body without disclosing whether the product will provide a health benefit to each consumer.”