U.S. warns against unproven opioid addiction products

FILE PHOTO: A full syringe, empty syringe and spoon sit on the roof of the car in which a man in his 20's overdosed on an opioid in the Boston suburb of Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eleven companies selling products to help people addicted to opioids have no proof to support claims that their pills and treatments aid in overcoming an opioid addiction, two government agencies said on Wednesday.

The Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration said they had posted warning letters to 11 companies that market or distribute the treatments.

“Health fraud scams like these can pose serious health risks. These products have not been demonstrated to be safe or effective and may keep some patients from seeking appropriate, FDA-approved therapies,” the FTC said in its release.

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, played a role in 42,249 U.S. deaths in 2016, up 28 percent from 2015 and 47 percent from 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The opioid crisis has lowered overall life expectancy in Americans.

Frank King, founder of King Bio which received a letter, said that it had stopped selling the medicine that the FTC and FDA objected to in order to avoid litigation.

“We choose to not fight it but to just go ahead and pull that particular product just because it was not a battle worth well over six figures to fight,” said King.

The other 10 companies and products named were Opiate Freedom Center (Opiate Freedom 5-Pack); U4Life, LLC (Mitadone); CalmSupport, LLC (CalmSupport); TaperAid (TaperAid & TaperAid Complete); Medicus Holistic Alternatives, LLC (Natracet); NutraCore Health Products, LLC (Opiate Detox Pro); Healthy Healing, LLC (Withdrawal Support); Soothedrawal, Inc (Soothedrawal); Choice Detox Center, Inc (Nofeel) and GUNA, Inc (GUNA-ADDICT 1).

Reuters sought comment from the 11 companies but only King Bio responded. The websites for several appeared to be offline and no contact information was available. Others could be reached but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas and Cynthia Osterman