By The FDA Executive Secretariat
This is in response to your e-mail of April 10, concerning the portrayal of a hairgrowth product on the Internet. You are correct in your assumption that minoxidil is the only product approved by the FDA for this use.It does not follow however, that portrayal on the Internet, of additional substances, botanicals, herbs, vitamins, minerals, or other products to re-grow hair is illegal or prohibited by current law. The FDA’s policy toward the Internet is currently under development and may require a court decision before it can be finalized. the basic protections provided under the Constitution to protect free speech and freedom of expression that apply to opinions and statements made in private conversations and during telephone conversations may also apply to the Internet.
When evaluating statements made on the Internet–seek references to authorizing bodies, organizations or known authorities. Statements made by a “Dr. Smith” or “Dr. Jones” may relate to a private opinion or observation that cannot be duplicate or verified and may be protected by free speech. Similar anecdotal observations made by “users” concerning improvements or benefits from use of a product are un-scientific and cannot be verified.
When reviewing or purchasing products portrayed on the Internet–and until such time as the regulatory bodies catch up to the speed and expanse of the Internet–“Caveat Emptor” (let the buyer beware) seems to be the operative caution. Until then–if a product being promoted for weight-loss; improving ones energy or sex-drive; or for body-building purposes– seems too good to be true–it probably isn’t (true).