Posted tagged ‘Prevagen’

You Must Remember This, cont’d

January 22, 2017

In December 2013, I wrote about a Madison biotech company facing an investigation from the Food and Drug Administration over a dietary supplement that supposedly bolsters memory recall. Three years later, Quincy Bioscience has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York attorney  general on a related complaint.

My Isthmus story begins:

Quincy Bioscience, a Madison biotech company that has struck gold in the dietary supplement business, is facing a potentially ruinous lawsuit filed by government regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission in conjunction with the New York state attorney general is seeking to shut down sales of Prevagen, which is a costly over-the-counter supplement the company says improves brain function, including memory.

The supplement’s key ingredient is a synthetic version of a jellyfish protein called aequorin. Quincy has patented it and promoted aequorin as supporting a sharper mind and clearer thinking.

“A clear-cut fraud” is how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman described the supplement in a press release. Through its advertising and TV infomercials, Quincy was preying on vulnerable senior citizens, he said, adding: Prevagen is a product “that costs more than a week’s groceries, but provides none of the health benefits that it claims.”

The FTC and Schneiderman want the court to issue a permanent injunction against the sale of Prevagen — which is Quincy’s core product — and to order the company to refund more than $165 million in Prevagen sales to consumers.

To read more, please go here.

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You Must Remember This

December 6, 2013

In this story for Isthmus, I examine the Oct. 16, 2012, complaint issued by the federal Food and Drug Administration against the Madison manufacturer of a memory supplement  called Prevagen. The feds say that unverified claims have been made on behalf of the various Prevagen products, and  that makes them not supplements but “unapproved new drugs.”

The manufacturer, Quincy Biotechnology, has taken steps to deal with the FDA warning, but denies that its flagship product is being marketed as a drug. The FDA says that–14 months after the warning was issued–the case is still “open.” But Quincy President Mark Underwood reports that the regulators are satisfied that Quincy has resolved all problems.  No word from the FDA on that.

I write:

Today, Prevagen is available at more than 20,000 retail locations, including Walgreen’s and CVS drugstores, and it’s sold online as well. Inc. magazine says Quincy’s annual revenue has grown 234% from 2009 to 2012 — from $5.3 million to $17.8 million.

Graying baby boomers are driving the demand.

“People are desperate to believe in something, because they don’t want to get Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Cynthia Carlsson, a UW-Madison Medical School geriatrician and memory researcher.

Underwood denies that Quincy is targeting Alzheimer’s patients. “There are five million Alzheimer’s patients, but there are 80 million baby boomers. As businesspersons, we’re much more interested in helping the 80 million baby boomers long before they have any diseases of dementia,” he says.

Alzheimer’s, however, is not a disease of age, according to Dr. Mark Sager, who is the principal investigator of the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention. This well-regarded longitudinal study of adult children of parents with Alzheimer’s is trying to detect the early markers of the disease.

“People think Alzheimer’s is a disease of aging,” he says. “But it’s a disease of a lifetime that only becomes evident in older adults.”

Sager says Alzheimer’s manifests itself for both genetic and environmental reasons, much as a person’s genetic propensity for heart disease can be exacerbated by smoking and lack of exercise.

“We find that diet, exercise and lifestyle — stress, for example — are all associated with Alzheimer’s,” says Sager. “If you’re overweight and don’t exercise in midlife, you have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s later on. ”

Sager, who runs the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, says it does not recommend taking Prevagen “primarily because there’s no evidence it does any good.” He suggests people worried about Alzheimer’s would be better off adopting the Mediterranean diet, which he says has proven benefits.

To read more, please go here.


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