CSPI Files Complaint with FTC Over Sex-Enhancing Supplements

September 23, 2004

3 Min Read
CSPI Files Complaint with FTC Over Sex-Enhancing Supplements

WASHINGTON--The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) (www.cspinet.org) filed a complaint Sept. 23 with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) citing false advertisement claims in advertisements for Cincinnati-based Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals Inc.s herbal sexual-enhancement supplement Enzyte, an herbal supplement marketed to improve the quality of mens erections.

The letter, signed by CSPIs senior staff attorney Benjamin Cohen and CSPIs senior nutritionist, David Schardt, urged FTC to immediately enjoin Enzytes national television advertisements.

The overall net impression of the claims in the advertisements for Enzyte indicates they are clearly deceptive, and so we urge the FTC to halt Berkeleys advertisements for Enzyte, the letter read.

CSPI claims one advertisement for Enzyte (shown on Late Night with Conan OBrien on Aug. 17) explicitly states it is for natural male enhancement and refers the viewer to Enzytes Web site (www.enzyte.com)."

Enzytes Web site, according to the letter, also is deceptive. For example, one testimonial reads: The increase in size and sensitivity are apparent. Kevin D., actual Enzyte customer. However, on About Enzyte page, it reads: To understand what Enzyte can do for you, its first important to understand what it cant do. Enzyte will not alter the size or shape of the penis. Also, Enzyte is not for use in treating sexual dysfunction or any medical condition. Enzytes label claims are stimulates blood flow, creating firmer, fuller erections for a more satisfying sexual experience.

Moreover, the site also includes a customer survey, titled Enzyte Confidential Customer Survey, 2001-2002, which states: Question: Have you experienced gains in the size and/or fullness of your erection? Answer: Yes--97 percent, No--9 percent, although the product disclaimer says the Enzyte cannot provide these benefits.

Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals stands behind the Enzyte formula, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals said in a statement.  Enzyte has been an extraordinarily successful product for one reason--it works. The products popularity alone is evidence that it is more than a mere placebo. Moreover, contrary to the CSPI report, Berkeley does possess scientific evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the ingredients contained in the product. Enzyte was formulated to help, among other things, promote blood flow, thereby enhancing the male sexual experience. The company does not claim that Enzyte will increase penis size or treat sexual dysfunction.

Class-action suits were filed in March 2004 against Berkeley by dissatisfied purchasers of Enzyte in both Ohio and California. In response to a request from the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau (www.search.cincinnati.bbb.org), which has processed 3,478 complaints since Berkeleys BBB file was opened in September 2001, Berkeley sent the BBB a statement in February 2003 which read: Regarding your request for registration information for the product with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), our product is categorized as an all-natural supplement and therefore does not require FDA approval.

In response to a request from BBB to supply the results of all medical studies testing Enzyte, Berkeley responded that it only had studies relating to the efficacy of Enzytes ingredients--not the product itself. In addition, in April 2004, the BBB requested substantiation of performance claims for the companys other products and has not received a response to date.

CSPI found little or no evidence that many common ingredients in sex pills, including ginkgo, horny goat weed, maca, or Tribulus terrestris improved sexual desire or performance. According to CSPI, ginseng may help some men with erectile dysfunction (ED), but only in large amounts of a specially processed form of the herb not usually found in these supplements. Also, yohimbe is a natural source of the alkaloid yombine, which is sometimes prescribed as a pharmaceutical for ED and may cause sudden spikes in blood pressure.

The FDA and the FTC have been lax when it comes to policing these so-called sex supplements, Schardt said, calling Enzyte and other sexual-enhancement supplements basically just an expensive placebo.

Until they act, consumers are best advised to drag any unsolicited e-mails from Mr. Gigantic or Mr. Thick from the inbox to the trash, Schardt added.

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