Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Akavar Can't Prove Its Claims -- Big Surprise!

In an earlier post, I wrote about a "diet drug" called Akavar that was featured in a two-page ad in Parade magazine. What particularly caught my eye was the ad's headline: "We couldn't say it in print if it wasn't true."

Well, retired physician Harriet Hall asked Akavar to prove its claims, and she writes about her experience in September/October issue of Skeptical Inquirer. (You can see it online at Science-Based Medicine, a medical blog to which she contributes)

In the article, Hall includes her emails to the company, their responses, and lack thereof. Her main point is that the company's ads claim there is published scientific research that showed 23 out of 24 patients using the active ingredient in Akavar lost weight in a controlled, randomized trial. If that were true, one could possibly consider using the product.

After a month and a half of emails, Hall wound up in contact with the company's legal department, which requested that she sign a non-disclosure agreement before they could give her citations for the published research. (Since "published" means "to make public," requiring an NDA seemed just a bit odd.)

When she refused to sign the NDA, they begrudgingly gave her citations for two articles and threatened her with this bit of tortured logic:

Any represesentation on your part that the published studies [whose citations they had given her] comprise the full substantiation for Akavar 20/50 or that the substantiation is lacking in any way would be false and intentionally misleading on your part since your [sic] were not privy to the full documentation.
Cup of coffee with words Drink Me and Lose Weight! superimposedHall then read the cited articles and (big surprise) found that neither one actually provided substantiation for the company's claims. Happily, she didn't let their threatens keep her from concluding that their product is no more effective than a cup of coffee.

No comments: