Noni Juice: Warning #2

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"Morinda, Inc. (the maker and distributor of Noni Juice) has been selling 6 more items in the Philippines that are without Bureau of Food and Drug approval; I do not know why the BFAD is allowing this to happen.Are you aware of the recent diet pills that killed several people in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore? Without BFAD approval, (I believe the public should be made aware that) these products of Morinda are not fit for human consumption."

This commentary and stern warning was made in a letter dated July 21, 2002 emailed to this column by one of our readers, Mr. Romy R of Metro Manila. He stated that these six new products called "Smart Extracts" are being marketed by Morinda, with the apparent claim that they are good for the cardiovascular system, energy, stress relief, memory improvement, joint support, etc. Noni juice and related products are also marketed and sold in the United States and other countries.

On August 10, 1999, and again on December 7th the same year, we warned the public that the claims made by Morinda, Inc. that Noni Juice was good for a host of diseases (from athlete's foot to arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke cancer, and many more) was false and without any scientific basis. We challenged this multilevel company headquartered in Linden, Utah, USA, for its apparent unsubstantiated, reckless and irresponsible claims in its promotions that Tahitian Noni Juice was a cure-all "food supplement." We also strongly questioned the safety of Noni Juice, since some physicians had reported severe complications among their patients who were drinking Noni Juice. We feared for the public and issued the warning about the possibility of serious sequelae like toxicity to the kidneys, liver, brain, and other organs. And, to top all these, Noni Juice was very expensive. We had communicated with Morinda, Inc. asking for supporting research medical literatures or scientific documentation to substantiate its inference that Noni Juice was effective for almost all diseases in the book, as stated in their various marketing media. Morinda, Inc. did not have any genuine research and clinical documentation to support its claims.

While Morinda, Inc. had always stated that their products were food supplements and not drugs (and therefore exempt from the stricter and more prohibitive laws that govern drugs), its advertisements stating that their products "are good for" the various human ills it claims to be effective for, obviously sounds like Morinda is marketing its products "to remedy or cure" these ailments, like drugs. So why are these products not considered drugs? The legality of Morinda Inc.'s claims might someday be challenged if the victims of its products file a class action suit. And, of course, Morinda, Inc. is only one of the dozens of companies that are apparently "peddlers of the modern snake oils," victimizing the public.

Morinda, Inc. like the other opportunistic and enterprising companies, obviously preys on the ignorance and trust of the uninformed public, making it possible for them to rake in hundreds of millions of dollar annually in revenues from the sale of Noni Juice and similar food supplements.

There is no question that all of us, including physicians, will welcome a cure-all miracle drug with no adverse side effects. However, we should be very wary and careful in evaluating marketing information about any such "cure-all" products or items that have not been thoroughly tested, proven effective and safe, and accepted by the world medical community.

As we have alluded to in our earlier column, there were no scientific evidences, and there are still none to this date, to support the assertions of Morinda, Inc. that Noni Juice and the other products they sell are safe, have therapeutic actions on the multitude of diseases the company listed, and that they have no serious side-effects. The positive declarations and statements in their infomercials from "satisfied consumers" are scientifically unsubstantiated, and are testimonials and anecdotal at best. Testimonials and anecdotal reports are not scientific. Anyone can claim anything.

Too good to be true? Indeed, it is. There is no single medication in the world that can cure all the diseases on earth, in spite of all our geniuses in science and winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine. And certainly, Noni Juice and the other products of Morinda, Inc. and others out there, can not. It is unconscionable for Morinda, Inc. and all similar companies to resort to deceptive informercials and marketing strategy to bilk the unsuspecting public of its hard earned money and risk the lives and health of thousands upon thousands of people. It is bad enough that these products are quite expensive and really ineffective, but for Morinda, Inc. to say that these substances are safe and do not have potential dangerous side-effects is most insensitive, callous and immoral, to say the least.

In Finland, the National Food Administration has "banned the importation, exportation, trade stocking, offering, and all other supplying, of the juice marketed under the name Noni." We also learned that the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, New Jersey and Texas have launched a multi-state assault on Morinda, Inc. Other states are expected to follow suit and other countries will soon wise up, I am sure.

Unfortunately for us in the Philippines, even the BFAD and the Department of Justice are obviously helpless and too impotent to help and protect the public against these perpetrators. The big loopholes and cracks in their systems allow these enterprising corporations to flourish, get richer at the expense of the consumers, and continue to victimize the public. Our national and local legislators are the key to eradicating this epidemic of deception and racketeering aimed against the public by promulgating stricter laws that will effectively protect the interest and welfare of the people.

But let us not hold our breath. Many of our legislators appear to have lost their balls at one time or another during their tenure while playing golf (?). Let's see how many of the incumbents will have the wisdom and guts to tackle this issue against these big corporations and protect their constituents, the very people they have sworn to serve and protect, the ones who elected them to their honorable offices.

If you will excuse me, it's time for my juice break...pineapple/grapefruit juice.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.