Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate Personal paper

Validity of advertising claims for multivitamin preparation Vitacor 20/90 on the internet

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 17 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1069
  1. Uwe Trµger, resident in clinical pharmacology (,
  2. Frank P Meyer, professor of clinical pharmacology
  1. Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Otto-von-Guericke University, University Hospital, Leipziger Strasse 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Trµger uwe.troeger
  • Accepted 19 June 1998

New electronic media such as the internet offer great possibilities for spreading serious medical information from healthcare professionals, organisations, and authorities to the public. However, there is also a reverse side to this coin. Some companies misuse the new medium for uncontrolled distribution of drugs that have not been tested properly by national authorities or medical societies. These companies deceive patients in their advertising messages. By using citations from serious medical journals, they lead people to believe that their drugs are “highly effective.” In addition, use of such drugs may encourage patients to abstain from the usual drugs administered by doctors.

In response to a patient's question about the usefulness of a multivitamin preparation in preventing and treating some cardiovascular diseases, we evaluated some of the claims made about Vitacor 20/90, which is being advertised intensively on the internet by Health Now (San Francisco, California, USA, and is distributed in Germany from the Netherlands.

Summary points

  • New electronic media such as the internet are used by companies to distribute drugs uncontrollably

  • We examined the scientific validity of advertising statements for

  • Vitacor, a multivitamin preparation being heavily advertised on the internet

  • In the references used to support advertising statements, we found no proper evidence for the claimed beneficial effects on morbidity,mortality, and quality of life associated with coronary heart disease,heart insufficiency, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and diabetes

  • Testing of the components of the preparation was not sufficient, and no general reduction of cardiovascular risks could be demonstrated even for standard substances such as vitamin E,β carotene, and vitamin A

  • The advertising statements …

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