In the latest government-waged attack on alternative health practitioners, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ordered Dr. Joseph Mercola to pay up to $5.3 million over a “false advertising” settlement involving the sale of tanning beds designed not to cause skin cancer.
The world-famous alternative medicine advocate has agreed to reimburse customers and cease marketing the “tanning beds,” which are not actually designed for tanning purposes, but rather for exposure to beneficial vitamin D through the use of ultraviolet (UV) light.
Dr. Mercola agreed to the settlement, but said that the charges were politically-motivated, and argued that the vitamin D-boosting UV light from the beds he sold is not only safe, but beneficial in actually preventing skin cancer and reversing the effects of aging on the skin.
Tanning versus nutrition
The FTC chose to ignore the distinction between traditional tanning beds, which are associated with an elevated skin cancer risk, and Dr. Mercola’s vitamin D-enhancing UV beds, which use a different type of light source.
From Dr. Mercola’s defense of his UV beds posted at Mercola.com:
“UV devices are commonly referred to as ‘tanning’ beds. The FTC is clearly not separating the significant difference between a high-pressure UVA light device purposely made to darken skin versus the use of UV lamps designed for nutritional purposes…
“The former addresses how you look, whereas the latter addresses optimization of health, reduction of chronic disease risk, and general well-being — without regard for the actual shade of your skin.”
Despite the differences between the two types of tanning beds, the FTC went after Dr. Mercola and the mainstream press – as usual – jumped on the bandwagon.
From the Chicago Tribune:
“Mercola, 61, uses his website and books to back a number of discredited, fringe medical causes on topics that include vaccinations and fluoridated water. He stars in web videos for his company, Mercola Health Resources, and wrote articles in which he claimed cold winters in the Midwest meant Chicagoans, in particular, would benefit from his tanning beds, which he said could ‘reverse your wrinkles’ and ‘slash your risk of cancer.'”
The Tribune‘s vicious defamation of Dr. Mercola is par for the course, according to Mike Adams, editor/founder of Natural News, and author of Food Forensics:
“No one is surprised these days to find another mainstream media article filled with outright lies, maliciously attacking a proponent of vitamin D. This pharma-backed hit piece on Dr. Mercola is so obviously false and trumped up that no informed person really believes it. The Chicago Tribune only discredits itself in printing these blatant lies while withholding the truth about vitamin D from its readers.”
A different set of rules for Big Pharma
The influence of Big Pharma on regulatory agencies and the mass media is obvious, when alternative health advocates such as Dr. Mercola are routinely thrown under the bus, while the drug industry manages to escape any punishment for its own misdeeds, which includes outrageous price hikes on pharmaceuticals, fraudulent research tactics and blatantly misleading advertising.
Lobbying pressure and large financial contributions ensure that the big drug companies can operate with impunity, while the feds (with the assistance of the mainstream press), actively seek to discredit and persecute anyone who dares to offer alternatives to the drug-based “cures” which are often completely ineffective and dangerous to human health.
Further evidence of this Big Pharma-sponsored witch hunt is found in the wording of the settlement against Dr. Mercola, in which he will not only be forced to pay millions and stop selling his UV beds, but will also likely be prevented from promoting other alternative health products.
In a related Natural News article, contributor J.D. Heyes wrote:
“As for his ‘deal,’ if it is approved by a federal judge – and it likely will be – the Trib reported it ‘would also ban Mercola from making false claims about any other product he sells,’ meaning, of course, that the government continues to reserve for itself the right to decide which claims are real and which are ‘false,’ based in no small part on donors with ties to traditional medicine.”
Big Pharma wins again – with a little help from the FTC and mainstream media. …