Let’s Have A Look – FDA curbs unfounded memory supplement claims – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing

Let’s Have a Look at this. How well do many of those pharmaceutical ‘miracle’ drugs they tout in advertisements work? Putting aside the long drawn out, often dangerous side-effects always recorded at the end of a commercial ad, in haste, in hopes your ears may miss a few, is it worth it to take this drug?


So this little question came to mind when I Googled the memory touting drug, Prevagen. To be honest, I looked it up out of curiosity because whenever I watch American news channel MSNBC (which I pay a premium to have), I can’t get over the same three or four themed advertisements that play over and over – pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, and more of it’s ilk. And the same ad for Prevagen comes on no matter when I watch that channel. But I digress, and after seeing that commercial numerous times I was curious about what exactly is in this ‘miracle’ drug? I mean, I know my short term memory sometimes plays tricks on me, so maybe I should take this?

As a person who does her damnest not to have to take pharmaceuticals, and thankfully, I don’t, except my compounded natural dessicated thryoid medication, my little meno-moments got me curious enough to look up – or try to look up, what is in this stuff? It led me to this page of Harvard University medical educators and contributors on various topics. Dr. Robert Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, gave a great scientific explanation of the touting of Prevagen, it’s actual efficacy, and mentions the protocols the FDA takes before allowing a drug on the market, and the stipulations of wording that can be used by the advertisers.


Here are some of the points Dr. Shmerling makes:

“Like many heavily-advertised supplements, this one makes many claims. The bottle promises it “improves memory” and “supports: healthy brain function, sharper mind, clearer thinking.” Never mind that the main ingredient in jellyfish (apoaequorin) has no known role in human memory, or that many experts believe supplements like this would most likely be digested in the stomach and never wind up anywhere near the brain.”

“As “proof” of power, a bar graph shows a rise from 5% to 10% to 20% over 90 days in “recall tasks.” But there’s no way to know what these numbers refer to, how many people were studied, or other important details. And no information is provided about effects on memory after 90 days. The fine print under the graph says that the supplement “improved recall tasks in subjects” without explaining what this means. While a company-sponsored study reported improvements in memory after people took apoaequorin, the published version demonstrated minimal improvement (summarized here).”

“The US Federal Trade Commission wasn’t convinced of the supplement’s benefits. It charged the supplement maker with false advertising back in 2012. In the legal filings, the company was accused of selectively reporting data and misleading the public by claiming that Prevagen is “clinically proven” to improve cognitive function. The lawsuit has not yet been decided.”

You can read the full article, where it continues on about what claims pharma companies are legally allowed to make, and which claims are not allowed as disclaimers.

According to what I’ve read from the above articles, I am personally not convinced I’d want to take that drug. Interesting the wording permitted to use in advertisements leaves me feeling a bit duped, and without the long term benefits or side-effects, a lawsuit still pending on whether or not the efficacy has been proven for effectiveness and listening to claims in the ad how it’s ‘given them back their peace of mind’, I’m not convinced either.

If you’d care to share your thoughts on FDA issues with claims you don’t agree with from your own experience, please share your thoughts here with us. And if any of you readers here take Prevagen, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about.


Source: FDA curbs unfounded memory supplement claims – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing



bitmo live laugh love


34 thoughts on “Let’s Have A Look – FDA curbs unfounded memory supplement claims – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing

  1. Good points, how red flags with heavily-advertised supplements. And the FDA monitors and sets guidelines with testing and wording. Yet, somehow there are still grey areas and companies find ways to get around the wording. I do not know anything about this specific supplement. You bring up a great point, Debbie, how often the questions are more important than the answers. A thought-provoking post.


    1. Thanks for joining the discussion Erica. I wanted this new series to talk about things that grab my attention and raise questions. I thought this was a good topic for discussion. The loopholes are definitely something that allow ads to make some unfound claims. 🙂 x


  2. Supplements have successful lobbyists even if their client’s products aren’t so great–exemption from some FDA regulation that drugs have. But the FTC has some power over false advertising. It’s still mostly buyer beware on most of the supplements. I’m dubious about Prevagen. Try blueberries–there is SOME support for them as helping memory and they are good for you otherwise. 🙂


  3. I’ve been taking Prevagen for some time now. I feel more alert, and my friends have commented on how impressed at my ability to remember things. Now, if I could remember where I put the bottle…

    In reality, I’ve never tried it before. It’s a bit disconcerting to understand that something could be approved with professionals questioning its effectiveness.


    1. Lol Pete. But yes, that’s what I was wondering when I came across the Harvard post it only reinforced my suspicions. Damn, so close, I thought for a moment you really tried it, lol, I’m curious to know if anyone in ‘real life’ actually tried it and found a difference. 🙂


  4. Great reminder Debby.. even with natural supplements I look into the company and their websites. The annoying thing is that phamaceutical companies can make claims based on very small trials and I have little faith in their word on anything. They promise you the earth and to me that is criminal as those who vulnerable get taken advantage of. Will share tomorrow in the blogger daily.. terrific post..♥♥


  5. An excellent post, Debbie – so good to point this out. Having worked with drug regulation in Australia, I’m very dubious and cautious about those sort of things. Toni x


  6. I know what you mean about ads without any evidence or hard facts to back them up. What came to mind was the well-known saying: there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics. You can interpret a graph any way you want, near enough, and when you don’t know the parameters of the study… Well, the world is your oyster. Save up the money and go for a walk if you can, I’d say. And eat healthily.


  7. I am usually quite sceptical about heavily advertised wonder drugs or treatments. I figure if anything is really good, we’ll hear about it in other channels. I may be wrong, but that’s my theory.


  8. Thank you for this very interesting information, Debby! I dont know, but i think in Europe we are missing something like the FDA. At least some organization working as effective like the FDA. 😉 Best wishes, Michael (P.S.: My dope is espresso, sempre e adesso! Lol


  9. My mom wanted to take this and with her mild dimentia, she gets a little obsessed about things. So I bought one very expensive bottle and added it to her pill case. After a month, we didn’t notice a difference and she had no memory of it. I hate the commercials that prey on the elderly. It makes me furious, Debby. Thanks for sharing the research here.


  10. I am very suspicious of all drugs that are purported to affect the brain in any way, including prescription drugs for mental health issues. I have had a lot of bad experiences with doctors and, while I acknowledge the role medicine has played in improving human life, including the role of vaccinations, I am not prepared to let a doctor mess with my brain. I don’t trust them at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s