Digital Patent Medicine

One hundred years ago—give or take—the country was awash in so-called “patent medicines” that claimed to cure virtually every ill that can befall a person. They were called patent medicines because they allegedly had patents, which occasionally they actually did, and they sold in massive quantities. Though they were mostly harmless, and made largely of natural substances, they only cured some symptoms for a very few people. Regularly, many people were made ill by the misleading promises of the “snake oil salesmen” who hawked the patent medicines.

Then, as was common in the early 20th Century, Washington DC took a whack at the problem. They came up with the Food and Drug Administration and patent medicines pretty much came to a screeching halt. Hooray!

Now, the internet and social media have created a new form of ‘patent’ medicine which has become increasingly common.  Messages get blasted everywhere about peoples’ concerns with weight, diabetes, heart conditions, sexual inabilities, mental failures etc. Those messages are crafted cleverly to avoid outright promises and they offer BIG discounts on allegedly non-harmful natural products not subject to FDA approval.

At age 86, I find myself tuning in to some of those messages every now and then because I am edging into an age territory where some of those problems begin to be quite real for me.

Then I think a bit and avoid them mainly because, IF they were as advertised, they would be in high demand and command similarly high prices. Their messages say things like “You have not heard about this because doctors and drug companies want you to buy their expensive drugs which rarely do you much long term good.” But that is nonsense.

THEREFORE: I have now concluded that the time has arrived for the FDA to assert jurisdiction over internet advertising CLAIMS for those concoctions.

If I have been suckered for a while, there also must be a lot more suckers out there too.

The time has arrived to come to the aid of all of us gullible suckers!


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