Nutritional Supplements' Misleading Claims: Report

Morning Business Memo:

Dangerous and illegal claims have been made by some widely sold nutritional supplements. Findings by a new federal report today say dozens of weight-loss and immune system supplements are illegally labeled and lack scientific evidence for their health claims. The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general found that 20 percent of the 127 weight-loss and immune-boosting supplements investigators purchased online and in retail stores across the country carried labels that made illegal claims to cure or treat disease. It's a scathing indictment of a booming $20 billion industry. Some products said they could cure or prevent diabetes or cancer or help people with HIV or AIDS, which is strictly prohibited under federal law. The report says consumers may not just be wasting their money on pills or tablets, but could be endangering their health if they take a supplement in place of a prescription drug. "Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potentially dangerous results."

Consumers buying more cars. The sales outlook for the holiday shopping season is not that strong, but more Americans are buying new cars and trucks. According to September reports released by the auto industry, sales were at their highest since the beginning of 2008. Among US carmakers Chrysler did the best with a 12 percent gain over the year before. But it was the big Japanese companies that had the biggest gains. Toyota sales were up 42 percent while Honda's numbers rose 31 percent. Smaller fuel-efficient car sales grew more than trucks.

A merger could be coming in the cellphone industry. A deal appears close between T-Mobile USA and Metro PCS. A merger could help strengthen the two struggling smaller players in the wireless industry. T-Mobile is the fourth-largest cellphone company, with 33.2 million subscribers. Metro PCS has just over 9 million customers.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says he plans to turn the Hawaiian island he recently bought into a laboratory for experimenting with more environmentally sound ways of living. Ellison says he hopes to convert sea water into fresh water on the 141-mile-square mile island of Lanai. He also wants more electric cars and hopes to increase Lanai's fruit exports to Japan and other markets. Ellison has plenty of money to throw around. His estimated fortune is worth $41 billion.

"Brewers are no longer crying in their beer," says the Wall Street Journal. After a long downturn, beer sales are growing again. Shipments are said to be rising for the first time since 2008.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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