Words of Warning: Fed Reprimands Clinicians on COVID Communications

By Erik Goldman

Since the pandemic began, the Federal Trade Commission has been notably aggressive in reprimanding supplement companies–and practitioners–that make COVID-related claims for nutrients, herbs, or other holistic modalities.

Any public health crisis creates a ripe situation for marketers promising quick cures and phony protections. With COVID-19, the huckstering began almost immediately.

So did federal regulatory actions. 

By the second week of March, the FDA had issued cease-and-desist warning letters to seven companies for selling COVID-19 remedies, including teas, essential oils, tinctures, and colloidal silver. The agency fired off a second wave of warnings in April.  By August, FDA had sent letters to nearly 100 different companies for “selling fraudulent products with claims to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure” coronavirus.

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Featured Articles

COVID & Doctor Suicide: Converging Epidemics

Written by Kristen Schepker

Doctors die by suicide at an alarmingly high rate. It’s a painful reality that is far too often ignored––or worse, intentionally concealed. Treating patients in the midst of a global pandemic has become yet another factor contributing to physician distress and suicide in recent months. The stories of medical professionals lost to suicide amid the Covid-19 outbreak are shining new light on some long-standing and dangerous shortcomings in our systems of medical education and practice.

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HPC Video

Probiotics: How to Choose Strains for Immune Health

Written by Erik Goldman

Howaru Webinar Merenstein


The gut microbiome influences the human immune system in many different ways. Probiotic supplements can play an important role in supporting healthy immune system function, provided one knows how to use them judiciously. 

In this webinar, Dr. Daniel Merenstein, director of the Georgetown University Research Program in Family Medicine, explores insights gained from several clinical studies at Georgetown as well as other research on how probiotics affect immune function in a wide range of patients, with diverse health conditions.

He will also share some of his own research that demonstrates the importance of examining products closely, as well as new research that shows the association between probiotic use and decreased antibiotic use and the economic benefits of widespread probiotic use.

Importantly, Dr. Merenstein will demonstrate where to find updated information, as probiotic products and information about them are changing quickly these days, and he will discuss the most frequently asked probiotic questions he gets from patients and medical colleagues.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about examples of probiotic interventions that are clinically documented for immune health
  • Review research on the health economics of probiotic use & the potential impact on population health
  • Review common terms and differences between Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Fermented Foods
  • Understand how and when to use probiotics in different patient populations
  • Learn where to gain clinically relevant information about probiotics that you can implement in your practice

This webinar is sponsored by HOWARU® probiotics, a DuPont™ Danisco® ingredient brand.


Daniel Merenstein, MD, is a Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University, where he also directs Family Medicine research. He has a secondary appointment in the undergraduate Department of Human Science, in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. He has been funded by the NIH, USDA, Foundations and Industry. He is the Vice-President of the board of directors at the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), and widely recognized as an expert on probiotics and antibiotic stewardship in outpatient settings. Dr. Merenstein is a clinical trialist who has recruited over 1,900 participants for 10 probiotic trials since 2006. He also conducts HIV research in a large cohort of women. He sees patients in clinic one day a week.


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