Friday, July 10, 2009
The Associated Press released an article yesterday regarding supplements for pets
which included quotes from ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark
Blumenthal.1 The AP article, written by Marilynn Marchione, focuses
primarily on concerns over the quality and effectiveness of supplements
for pets—particularly those that are intended to offer nutritional
and/or other support for arthritis and other joint conditions. The
article has already been distributed through several major media
The article quotes Blumenthal as stating that quality
problems have been associated with supplements, although many companies
do a good job. Blumenthal is also quoted as stating that dogs and cats
are unable to give their subjective assessments of a supplement’s
efficacy, and that owners want to believe that the supplements they pay
for are having beneficial effects on their pets.
statements were pulled from an approximately 45-minute phone interview
that Marchione conducted with Blumenthal on June 24, and many topics of
that conversation and qualifications that Blumenthal provided were not
included. For instance, Blumenthal discussed several companies that are
conducting legitimate research on the benefits of supplements on
companion animals (dogs, cats, horses), but these were not mentioned in
The American Botanical Council published its own article on supplements for pets in HerbalGram issue 82, titled “The Expanding Market and Regulatory Challenges of Supplements for Pets in the United States
written by HerbalGram Managing Editor Courtney Cavaliere.2 Marchione
stated that she had read that article during her interview with
Blumenthal, and she included a link to the HerbalGram article below her
own AP story (found under the “On the Net” subhead).
HerbalGram article, Cavaliere pointed out that the nonprofit National
Animal Supplement Council (NASC)—of which 90% of pet supplement
manufacturers in the United States are members—has initiated many
self-regulatory measures for the pet supplement industry. NASC created
quality control guidelines and instituted risk monitoring procedures
for the industry. Companies that manufacture supplements for pets that
meet the NASC’s quality and safety protocols, and that have completed a
facility audit, are able to use the NASC’s Quality Seal on their
products. Although Marchione mentions the NASC and quotes its president
Bill Bookout in her AP article, she fails to mention the NASC’s
self-regulatory protocols or its Seal Program.
previously, Marchione also fails to point out that some companies that
manufacture supplements for pets are increasingly testing the
effectiveness of their products. She quotes anonymous “veterinary
experts” as saying that there is little evidence that joint-pain
supplements for pets work, and she uses quotes from Blumenthal to
support the idea that testing the efficacy of supplements for pets is
particularly difficult. The HerbalGram article, however, includes
information on a randomized, controlled clinical study to assess the
efficacy of an herbal supplement called Pet Relief® (RZN
Nutraceuticals, Orange Park, FL) for treating canine pain and lameness,
which was initiated in October 2008 at Colorado State University. This
study is testing a pet supplement for the very condition (arthritis)
that Marchione focused on within her own article, yet she did not
include any information about such trials, or quotes from researchers
conducting such trials, within her own article.
The AP article
on supplements for pets is the latest of a series of articles that
Marchione has written about dietary supplements, beginning in June.
These articles have been generally critical of complementary and
alternative medicine and the supplement industry. Blumenthal provided
some commentary on Marchione’s series, which was published in the July
issue of ABC’s monthly electronic newsletter HerbalEGram and has also
been posted on ABC’s homepage.3
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1. Marchione M. Tests reveal some pet supplements skimp on meds. Associated Press. July 9, 2009. Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iaIOY9TjrDQryHoiXy-FMcmfyrugD99B3A880
Cavaliere C. The expanding market and regulatory challenges of
supplements for pets in the United States. HerbalGram. 2009;82:34-41.
3. Blumenthal M. AP publishes series on dietary supplements and CAM. HerbalEGram, July 2009;6(7). Available at: <http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/R?i=wJRkzsf4TV33qL56AOBr8Q..>http://cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume6/07%20July/AP_Commentary.html?t=1246541625. Accessed July 9, 2009.