GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is said to be the second largest pharmaceutical and food company in the world. They make and market an influenza antiviral (Relenza) and an H5N1 vaccine. We trust that they represent their products to the public and to public officials correctly. Maybe we shouldn’t. At least not on the basis evidence adduced by two 14 year old New Zealand school girls:
Jenny and Anna decided to look at vitamin C content in juice for the Manukau Institute of Technology science fair because “we were both going through a juice phase”.
Jenny said the Ribena ready-to-drink product was one of the first of the juice products they checked the results for.
“We just couldn’t believe it. We thought we must have done it wrong,” she said.
“We tested it another 10 times, and tested the syrup as well. The other products all came up with more vitamin C than they said, but not Ribena.”
They took their results to Ribena, but had little feedback.
They were not too impressed by an invitation from GlaxoSmithKline to visit once the commission case began “to say thank you for bringing it to their attention”, and even less impressed by the company’s efforts to have the fine set at $60,000. (Stuff [NZ])
Understand what was involved here. It’s not that the juices didn’t have as much vitamin C as claimed. They didn’t have any. Despite claims there was 7 mg/100 ml in one ready to drink product and none in a syrup it claimed had four times the vitamin C of oranges. None. Nada. Claims they’d made in advertising from 2002 to 2006. GSK has admitted to the fraud.
GSK sells Relenza, an inhalable influenza antiviral. How do we know there’s any active ingredient in it? Because they tell us there is? Once on the market how will be know there is any viral antigen in their vaccine or any adjuvant to give it a boost? Because they tell us?
Maybe there’s a difference between making a health claim for a product with no active ngredient and quackery. Tell me what it is.