The debate about the dangers and benefits of dietary supplements is a topic that seems to be as old as the world. Some are sure of the almost miraculous properties of additives “from nature”, while others talk about a waste of money of those who fell for the marketing tricks of manufacturing companies. But there is also a third side of this issue: the safety of dietary supplements. This year, a number of high-profile lawsuits took place to restrict the sale of dietary supplements containing prohibited and potent substances. Despite the fact that judicial practice suggests that judges do not rule in favor of unscrupulous companies, the executive authorities seem to be acting in their own way, according to a plan that no one knows.
A striking example of this thesis is the strange situation that happened with the register of sites containing information prohibited on the territory of Russia, which is under the authority of Roskomnadzor.
At the end of August this year, the Central District Court of the city of Barnaul made a decision to recognize that information on the sale of specialized food products from the official website of the notorious American company iHerb was prohibited from disseminating in the territory of the Russian Federation. In simple words, the court ruled to close the Internet resource, and, consequently, sales on it. The reason for such a tough decision was the numerous violations discovered by experts on the company’s website. More than a thousand drugs did not comply with technical regulations, dietary supplements containing drugs, products exceeding the permitted dosage, substances prohibited in the country – the list of “sins” of the company turned out to be large.
The danger of products distributed by iHerb was compounded by rather aggressive marketing measures. Information about miraculous remedies sounded almost from every iron, so it is almost impossible to count the number of victims or potentially injured. The only measure that could stop this madness was a complete blocking of the site, which was ordered by the Russian justice system. Roskomnadzor, as expected, added the portal to the relevant register. True, for reasons unknown to logic, the site itself actually remained in the same mode. Representatives of the company, naturally, did not agree with the decision of the court and filed an appeal. Its consideration is scheduled for the end of December.
Despite the fact that there were no official changes in the court’s decision, unexpectedly, the iHerb website disappeared from the register of sites containing information prohibited in Russia. By the way, the resource itself continues its work – come in, choose. That is, it turns out that Roskomnadzor first enters the site into the register by court order, and then arbitrarily excludes it. How could this happen? Do the executive authorities have such powers?
Alas, due to such strange “maneuvers” there are suggestions that a far from poor company was able to somehow pre-trial agreement with the executive authorities, whose competence is to enforce the decisions of Russian courts, so as not to spoil the New Year’s sales. I would hate to believe it, but such thoughts come naturally. Perhaps after the resource independently removed prohibited products from the assortment, Roskomnadzor saw an opportunity not to strike a blow at the company’s business. But, again, it is not within the competence of Roskomnadzor or, in general, any other authority to make such decisions and generally determine the way of implementing a court decision. Moreover, based on the text of the court decision, the entire iHerb website, and not individual pages of the portal, became the object of the ban.
It should be noted that in November a court in the Republic of Udmurtia declared information about dietary supplements on the online sites Yandex.Market, Sbermegamarket and others prohibited; in total, they were ordered to delete information about 50 product names. This decision was executed immediately after the issuance of the online stores themselves. It turns out that domestic marketplaces are more responsible for court decisions, fearing sanctions and bans.
It turns out that, despite the collected evidence base, despite socially dangerous activities, iHerb continues to work. Of course, the magical disappearance of a site from the Roskomnadzor registry may simply be a technical error. But this mistake can cost the health of thousands of people who will receive iHerb products prohibited in Russia as a gift under the Christmas tree.
The editors sent a request to Roskomnadzor to clarify the position and arguments of the department.