I received this important email from CSPI this morning and would like to share it with you all. When big companies go wrong it can be very ugly.
Dear Heather Ferris,
Earlier this summer, we emailed you some important information about deceptive ads and other marketing for Bayer’s One A Day multivitamins for men. In addition, we filed complaints with the government challenging Bayer’s claims that the selenium in those pills could help reduce one’s risk of prostate cancer.
One day after we first contacted Bayer, the Food and Drug Administration revised its position to limit the claims that companies are permitted to make about selenium’s ability to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. And, as a result, Bayer altered much of its marketing to eliminate the claim that One A Day helps reduce that risk.
Quite incredibly, Bayer’s lawyers later sent me a letter threatening to sue CSPI for speaking out on this important issue!
In fact, they complained about our last email to you on this topic, and are threatening to seek a gag order that would prevent CSPI from keeping you fully informed about One A Day multivitamins with selenium—or any other Bayer products.
Of course, their claims have no merit. Despite Bayer’s bullying threats, the basis for our complaints about its marketing of One A Day vitamins for men remains unchanged.
The largest prostate cancer prevention trial ever conducted found that the mineral selenium was no more effective in reducing prostate cancer risk than a placebo. That trial, theSeleniumand Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, known as SELECT, was halted early when it became clear that the men were not benefiting from selenium and may have developed more cases of diabetes than men in the control group. Another study of selenium and prostate cancer found an alarming three-fold increased risk of diabetes among men taking selenium.
Writing about the SELECT trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Peter Gann of the University of Illinois at Chicago cautioned that “physicians should not recommend selenium or vitamin E—or any other antioxidant supplements—to their patients for preventing prostate cancer.”
Hopes that selenium might be beneficial to the prostate were further dashed when a 2009 study of men with prostate cancer found more aggressive cases of the disease in men with high selenium blood levels and a common genetic trait shared by three out of four men.
Despite all of this, Bayer has refused to pull the deceptively labeled packages that off retailers’ shelves. The company has failed to remove all of the false prostate claims from some One A Day marketing, and it has also refused to put in writing that it won’t make misleading claims in the future.
For those reasons, and because Bayer has a long record of wrongdoing in other cases, we have just filed a lawsuit against Bayer with the aim of preventing the company from deceiving men about selenium and prostate health in the future.
Bayer is clearly trying to intimidate us into silence. But you should know you can continue to count on us for useful advice on health and nutrition, backed up by sound science—and a healthy dose of free speech.
I will continue to keep you updated about our lawsuit against Bayer.
P.S. If you had purchased Bayer One A Day multivitamins for Men on the belief that they might reduce your (or a loved one’s) risk of prostate cancer, please share your story with me.
Please forward this message to interested friends and family, and thank you for supporting CSPI!