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State body warns health guru over food products

Harry McGee

Richard Oakley

The government`s state regulatory body on drugs has warned lifestyle guru Tony Quinn about the over-the-counter selling of two of his food supplement products and is considering similar action in relation to a third.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has told Quinn to make changes to two products in the past year which were making medicinal claims, or being sold as medicines, without its authorisation.

The IMB is examining another Quinn-labelled nutritional product, a life-extension mix, which is currently on sale in Tony Quinn health stores, on similar grounds. Legally, a medicinal product cannot be marketed without authorisation. If it is categorised as medicinal or makes medicinal claims, the manufacturer must apply for a product authorisation from the IMB and the board undertakes a stringent assessment to ensure it lives up to its claims.

A spokesman for Tony Quinn`s organisation, Martin Forde, said that it has never sought authorisation because it has no wish to sell any products as medicines, but only as food supplements, which do not require a licence.

In the case of the first product, a liver supplement, the IMB warned that the Tony Quinn group was making medicinal claims in its literature for the product. It asked the group to either change the product`s contents or stop making medicinal claims for it.

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Forde said the company had changed a statement on the product so as to remove any suggestion of a medicinal claim. "We do not wish to make medical claims for any of our food supplements. We do not want any to be licensed as medicines," he said.

The IMB wrote to the Tony Quinn group last September about another item in its range, a "mind alert" product, asking that it be either reformulated so it would no longer be deemed a medicine, or reclassified Ð a process that would require authorisation from the IMB.

Forde said the "mind alert" product fell foul of the IMB because the product`s old brochure, which made reference to St John`s Wort, was produced before the herb was reclassified as a prescription-only ingredient. Forde said this was "entirely an oversight".

The third product, which the IMB considers to be a medicine, is a "life extension mix" which, like the others, is sold in Quinn`s health stores and advertised in his newspaper Blueprint for Successful Living. In its advertising, it quotes a BBC documentary on ageing in which "some experts in the field suggested it was the most advanced product of its kind available". The IMB believes this is a medicinal claim but would not elaborate any further to The Sunday Tribune.

Some of the products sold in Tony Quinn health stores are in the so-called "borderline" category: vitamins or mineral-containing products which occupy a position between medicines and food supplements.

Among the products sold is creatine, a food supplement currently sold without licence, but which may become subject to new directives on food supplements and traditional medicines which are currently being prepared by the EU.

Among the measures being explored are regulations on maximum allowances, labeling requirements and licensing requirements.

News Focus, Pages 14-15

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