Department of Health and Human Services' logo Department of Health and Human Services

Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration


5100 Paint Branch Pkwy
College Park, MD 20740-3835

May 28, 2003

Jeanean Matthews
10610 Saratoga
Oak Park, MI 48237

Ref. No. CL-03-HFS-810-45

Dear Ms Matthews:

This is to advise you that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed your web site at the Internet address: and has determined that the products "Hawthorn Berry Capsules", "Cranberry Plus Vitamin C", "Fo-Ti Root Capsules", "Sarsaparilla Root (Smilax)", and "Yucca Capsules" being offered are promoted for conditions that cause the products to be drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 USC 321(g)(1)]. The therapeutic claims on your web site establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The continued marketing of these products with these claims violates the Act and may subject you or the products to regulatory action without further notice.

Examples of some of the claims observed on your web site include:

Hawthorn Berry Capsules

"Helps to lower blood pressure."

"Used in early stages of congestive heart failure."

"Used to aid in long term recovery from heart attack."

"Helps to reduce the risk of angina attacks."

Cranberry Plus Vitamin C

"Common Uses: Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections."

"Cranberry prevents E coli from sticking and an infection is therefore less likely to occur."

"…both as a food and for medicinal purposeds to prevent kidney stones..."

"…The beginning of this century saw the first research into cranberry as a preventative and cure for urinary tract infections It has not looked back since."

Fo-Ti Root Capsules

"Helps relieve symptoms of Arteriosclerosis."

"Helps lower high cholesterol levels."

Sarsaparilla Root (Smilax)

"Helps ease inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism and arthritis."

"Helps reduce fevers…"

"Helps ease some skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis."

"Acts as an expectorant and is often recommended by herbalists for … and colds."

"Native Americans used Sarsaparilla to treat a wide variety of complaints including skin disease … rheumatism, fevers, and venereal diseases."

"…For many years it was believed that Sarsaparilla was a "blood purifier" — this was a polite way of saying it was a remedy for syphilis."

"…for more than 150 years it was listed as a remedy for syphilis in both the US Pharmacopoeia and the National Formulation [sic]."

Yucca Capsules

"Helps relieve the pain, swelling and stiffness caused by arthritis."

"Helps reduce high blood pressure."

"Helps lower cholesterol levels."

"May help relieve migraines and other headaches."

"…purposed to used for medicinal purposes to treat skin problems, inflammation and bleeding."

Furthermore, FDA has no information that your products are generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced conditions and therefore, these products may also be "new drugs" under section 201(p) of the Act [21 USC 321(p)]. New drugs may not be legally marketed in the US without prior approval from FDA as described in section 505(a) of the Act [21 USC 355(a)]. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data submitted by a drug sponsor to demonstrate that the drug is safe and effective.

FDA is aware that Internet distributors may not know that the products they offer are regulated as drugs or that these drugs are not in compliance with the law. Many of these products may be legally marketed as dietary supplements or as cosmetics if therapeutic claims are removed from the promotional materials and the products otherwise comply with all applicable provisions of the Act and FDA regulations.

Under the Act, as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), dietary supplements may be legally marketed with truthful and non-misleading claims to affect the structure or function of the body (structure/function claims), if certain conditions are met. However, claims that dietary supplements are intended to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat, or cure disease (disease claims), excepting health claims authorized for use by FDA, cause the products to be drugs. The intended use of a product may be established through product labels and labeling, catalogs, brochures, audio and videotapes, Internet sites, or other circumstances surrounding the distribution of the product. FDA has published a final rule intended to clarify the distinction between structure/function claims and disease claims. This document is available on the Internet at (codified at 21 CFR 101.93(g)).

In addition, only products that are intended for ingestion may be lawfully marketed as dietary supplements. Topical products and products intended to enter into the body directly through the skin or mucosal tissues, such as transdermal or sublingual products, are not dietary supplements. For these products, both disease and structure/function claims may cause them to be new drugs.

Certain over-the-counter drugs are not new drugs and may be legally marketed without prior approval from FDA. Additional information is available in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR) Parts 310 and 330-358, which contain FDA's regulations on over-the-counter drugs.

This letter is not intended to be an all-inclusive review of your web site and products your firm may market. It is your responsibility to ensure that all products marketed by your firm are in compliance with the Act and its implementing regulations.

If you need additional information or have questions concerning any products distributed through your web site, please contact FDA. You may reach FDA electronically (e-mail) at APope@CFSAN.FDA.GOV, or you may respond in writing to Angela F. Pope, Compliance Officer, Food and Drug Administration, Division of Compliance and Enforcement, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy, College Park, MD 20740-3835. If you have any questions concerning any issue in this letter, please contact Ms Pope at 301-436-2375.

Susan J. Walker, MD
Acting Director,
Division of Dietary Supplement Programs
Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

This page was posted on July 31, 2005.

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