Thursday, September 20, 2007

Go buy an ad

Today, it’s a bit of business hype, reported by Bob Fliss in his column “Biz Bits.” Headline: “Enzymedica Inc. a local company with a national product.”

The column, which ran yesterday, says Enzymedica Inc. is a “producer of enzyme-based nutritional supplements,” and Tom Bohagen “founded” the company “locally” in 1998. Bohagen is reported to have been a salesman for an unnamed natural foods company before deciding “to strike out on his own,” Fliss reports.

The nice newsman writes that Bohagen’s bromides are manufactured out of state (doesn’t say where) and 30 people carry out “packaging and shipping” from a Tamiami Trail address. Feel free to argue my point, but I say slapping Bohagen’s label on a pill bottle and mailing it from Port Charlotte, Fla., are not the same as producing a product. I’m also having a hard time envisioning 30 employees kept busy five days a week, 20 days a month, 11 months a year at this little repackaging scheme.

The nice newsman says the firm’s newest product “is supposed to increase absorption of other supplements – vitamins, minerals and herbs.” Good that he used a qualifier, “supposed to.” Bad that he didn’t check a couple of medical information sources about this supposition. Also bad that he didn’t ask the obvious question: If Bohagen's customers need a supplement to supplement their supplements, then what have his desperate and hopeful clients been spending their money for all these years?

The nice newsman doesn’t appear to have used a couple of basic skeptical-reporter tools. Oww cannot find Tom Bohagen’s name in the local telephone book, despite his claim to have been in business here for nearly a decade. (Enzymedica is listed; maybe Bohagen takes all his calls at the office.) Oww finds neither Bohagen nor Enzymedica registered as a principal or business name in Florida Department of State’s on-line records search.

Brief tangent: There’s a wealth of information out there about the danger and fraud that are the earmarks of the herbal supplement market. People are lured into downing untested, unregulated, uncontrolled and unknown substances that reputable doctors and scientists warn about over and over again. Eating this stuff can interfere with genuine medical treatments and even induce illness instead of curing it. Before swallowing a salesman’s claims, one ought to ask:
1. What is the evidence that I suffer from the condition the salesman wants to treat?
2. Have I looked up the ingredients in a pharmaceutical or chemical directory that describes in terms I can understand this herb or enzyme’s properties?
3. Is the pill or powder produced in a sterile factory, free from asbestos, ratdroppings and technicians who pick their noses?
4. Is the salesman’s claim based on appropriately controlled studies or anecdotes from “satisfied customers?”
Returning to the main point: With careful wording, the nice newsman avoids endorsing or promoting this health fraud – just barely. This editor would have told the repackaging salesman to go buy an ad, preferably one with the disclaimer: “Not FDA approved.”


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