Consumer groups urge Congress to insist on consumer protections in airline taxpayer bailout

March 19, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–A coalition of national consumer and passenger rights groups today called on Congress to include provisions in any contemplated airline industry bailout legislation that address both the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on passengers as well as long-standing consumer protection concerns.

After years of record profits, the airline industry is now facing steep and painful financial headwinds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the industry has asked the Trump Administration and leaders in Congress for a bailout package of grants, loans, and tax relief reportedly totaling more than $50 billion. This includes $29 billion in grants, up to $25 billion in loans, three months of tax rebates and a repeal of aviation excise taxes through at least the end of 2021.

To address the immediate danger of the coronavirus and related passenger protection concerns during the national emergency, the groups urged Congress to require airlines to take steps to mitigate the spread of coronavirus on airplanes, require cash refunds for consumers who cancel flights or whose flights are canceled by the airline, require reasonable rebooking fares and increase call center staffing levels.

As advocates for consumers, the groups further urged Congress to heed the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis by including a slate of needed consumer protections such as making ancillary fees reasonable, restoring a private right of action, empowering state attorneys general to protect passengers, prohibiting further reductions in seat sizes, and ensuring equal access to fare, fee and schedule data.

“A commercially viable air transportation system is vital to the U.S. economy, but in the past decade the airlines have raked in $96 billion in profits on the backs of consumers with the implicit assurance that taxpayers would bail them out in the event of a major market disruption,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League. “If the airlines are going to run to Congress for a bailout when they could have invested in pandemic insurance or increased their cash reserves, then policymakers should require binding commitments to address long-standing consumer protection concerns.”

“After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Consumer Reports supported taxpayer relief  for the airline industry, but urged Congress to require protections to address longstanding consumer complaints,” said William J. McGee, Aviation Adviser for Consumer Reports.   “Unfortunately, no such protections were included, and since then, the airlines have consolidated, become less consumer-friendly, and laid off hundreds of thousands of workers as their profits soared.  Meanwhile, consumers have had to put up with tighter seats, indifferent customer service, and an increasing number of costly fees. Consumers should not be left out now.”

“Restoring a private right of action is the one necessary structural solution to provide sufficient industry discipline to prevent airlines from trampling on all the rights and interests of their customers,” stated Business Travel Coalition chairman Kevin Mitchell. “The right to sue when harmed is fundamental and is one that the U.S. Congress never intended to have stripped from airline consumers when it deregulated the industry in 1978. Moreover, it is a right that consumers exercise in every other consumer-facing industry to discourage market participants from abusing their rights.”

“As air travel is the main way the coronavirus has quickly spread to become a global pandemic, airlines have a special obligation to strictly obey government guidelines to mitigate the pandemic even though this means less revenue and increased expenses in the short term,” said Paul Hudson, President, FlyersRights.org, Public Member, FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee and Evacuation Advisory Rulemaking Committee. “DOT Secretary Chao must also strictly enforce the guidelines and abandon the agency’s weak enforcement of passenger rights. Congress at a minimum should repeal the exemption of airlines from consumer protection laws applying to all other businesses.”

“The last investment taxpayers made in the airline industry during a time of crisis was followed by record profits on the backs of consumers through less competition, transparency, passenger comfort and a proliferation of fees for services previously included in the price of a ticket,” said Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now. “This time, massive public assistance to the airline industry must be coupled with a meaningful commitment from the airline industry to passenger safety and consumer protection.”

“For years, the airlines have failed to place either passenger health and safety or passenger rights first, so Congress needs to require that they do,” said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG Senior Director for Federal Consumer Programs.

“It’s time to put the public interest front and center as we take steps to address the immediate problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the airline industry in the long-term,” said Susan Grant, Consumer Federation of America’s Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy.

The letter was signed by the National Consumers League, Business Travel Coalition, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, EdOnTravel.com, FlyersRights.org, Travelers United, Travel Fairness Now  and U.S. PIRG.

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ABOUT

The National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Business Travel Coalition

Founded in 1994, the mission of Business Travel Coalition is to interpret industry and government policies and practices and provide a platform so that the managed travel community can influence issues of strategic importance to their organizations. For more information, visit www.businesstravelcoalition.com

Consumer Action

Through education and advocacy, Consumer Action fights for strong consumer rights and policies that promote fairness and financial prosperity for underrepresented consumers nationwide.

Consumer Federation of America

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, more than 250 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization’s Board of Directors. CFA is a research, advocacy, education and service organization.

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports (CR) is a nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests, including their interest in safe and affordable air travel. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

EdOnTravel.com

A longtime travel expert, Ed helps consumers get the most from their travel dollar. His feature and Q&A columns give readers up-to-the-minute advice on everything from planning an itinerary for a European rail trip to booking flights, renting cars and buying travel insurance. Perkins also peppers his columns with valuable tips to avoid travel hassles.

FlyersRights.org

FlyersRights.org, established in 2007, is the largest airline passenger organization. It publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, operates a free hotline for airline passengers 877-FLYERS6, advocates for passenger rights and interests, represents passengers on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee dealing with air safety, and maintains a staffed office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.flyersrights.org

Travel Fairness Now

Travel Fairness Now is a non-profit coalition of 70,000 travelers advocating for greater transparency, competition and fairness in travel. For more information, please visit www.travelfairnessnow.org.

Travelers United

Travelers United is the only nonprofit, consumer travel organization dealing with air, rail, bus, rental car, cruise, and lodging.  With a presence in Washington, DC we regularly bring together the Department of Transportation, the Federal Trade Commission, congressional representatives, and major stakeholders to impact important issues on behalf of travelers. For more information, visit www.travelersunited.org

U.S. PIRG

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

NCL applauds crackdown on sham coronavirus cures

March 17, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, today applauded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cracking down on vendors selling purported “cures” for the deadly coronavirus. In letters sent to seven companies, the agencies rightly warned that companies seeking to profit off of the “high level of anxiety” consumers are experiencing due to the coronavirus outbreak may be violating federal consumer protection statutes.

The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Americans are right to be concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Unfortunately, there are charlatans out there seeking to make a buck selling snake oil ‘cures’ for this deadly virus. These scammers are defrauding consumers of money they will need to weather the coming economic storm. Even worse, consumers who believe these fake cures will ward off or cure the coronavirus may delay obtaining needed medical care with potentially deadly results for themselves and those around them. That is why we are so grateful to the leadership shown by FTC Chairman Simons and FDA Commissioner Hahn in putting these purveyors of false hope on notice.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

New study says Chipotle management presses workers to work sick and skip food safety practices, creating health risks for consumers

February 6, 2020

The Unsavory side of ‘Food with Integrity.’ ” report details management practices that lead to worker abuses and call into question protocols Chipotle put in place after recent food safety crises

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

New York — After dozens of outbreaks of food borne illness incidents over the past four years, Chipotle gave lip service to reforms in their work practices, but the fast-casual restaurant has continued to engage in management practices that lead to abuses of workers that may create food safety risks for consumers, a new study says.

Scores of employees interviewed for the study reported management pressure to work fast without following proper food safety procedures, such as:

  • One worker being pressured to work while sick, even after the worker vomited  part way into his shift;
  • Undercooked chicken being served to a customer because the grill cook out in place had not been properly trained;
  • Workers pressured to work so fast that during lunch and dinner rushes, they often flipped over  chopping boards used to cut raw meat, and reused the boards without washing them;
  • One worker who cooked food had to clean feces off the floor or ceiling of a bathroom multiple times without hazmat suit or adequate protection equipment;
  • Pressure to work without stopping, with no time left to wash their hands for hours on end.

In the report, “The Unsavory Side of ‘Food with Integrity,'” workers told researchers that their managers often knew when supposedly independent audits were coming because other managers or field leaders who have undergone inspection often tip them off. Workers reported that managers relax rules outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when inspections are imminent.

“The findings of this report call into question the effectiveness of measures that Chipotle put in place to solve their food safety crises of a few years ago,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, which co-authored the report. “If Chipotle executive management and the Food Safety Advisory Council are responsible for making sure that this program is implemented effectively to keep the public safe, they have been asleep at the wheel.”

The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization which has been representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since their founding in 1899, undertook the study after SEIU Local 32BJ brought the organization information from field organizers about what were learning about practices that could affect consumer food safety from Chipotle workers they were supporting in their organizing efforts.

Organizers and researchers spoke to hundreds of workers, then undertook formal interviews with 47 workers at 25 stores in New York City. These interviews and statements form the basis of the report, which also included analysis of a variety of corporate filings, press reports, and other publicly available documents.

“We chose to blow the whistle on these practices and abuses because our Chipotle managers did not listen to us,” Jeremy Espinal, a Chipotle worker, said. “It’s a pressure-packed workplace where supervisors intimidate you and retaliate against you.”

“I am speaking out because I want to make Chipotle a better place to work and a better place for customers to eat,” Jahaira Garcia, another Chipotle worker, said. “This job is how I support myself, how I help my father out with expenses at home and how I am able to partly pay for my school fees.”

32BJ President Kyle Bragg thanked the National Consumers League for working with the union and thanked the workers for their courage.

“I believe that these workers are Chipotle’s best assets,” Bragg said. “They can put the integrity back into ‘food with integrity.’ Give them a voice on the job and they will help Chipotle achieve the lofty ideals of its marketing.”

Report findings include:

  • Managerial pay incentives that promote cutting food safety corners:  managers can earn up to an additional 25% of base pay by meeting performance goals that include reducing labor costs, creating a highly pressurized work environment. This bonus program may incentivize managers to meet productivity goals by cutting corners on food safety or by violating worker protection laws.
  • Ineffective store audits: Worker interviews revealed that general managers frequently know when supposedly independent audits are coming because other managers or field leaders who have been inspected often tip them off. Workers reported that managers have relaxed rules following outside of inspection periods and tightened up adherence to food safety protocols when an audit is imminent.
  • Pressure to work sick: New York-based workers reported that managers have pressured crew members to work while sick or retaliated against workers for taking paid sick leave.
  • Minimal training: Despite the substantial skills needed to safely prepare Chipotle’s fresh food menu, many new hires receive minimal training and “learn as they go” from co-workers who may not have received much training themselves.

“As chairman of the New York City Council Public Health Committee, this is deeply troubling to me,” said New York Councilmember Mark Levine. “Risk of contagion should not be aggravated by an aggressive incentive structure that encourages managers to abuse workers and cut food safety corners. The public needs to know more and Chipotle needs to change their policies. That is why I am calling for a public hearing in the Council. I encourage Chipotle workers and consumers to come forward to discuss these issues. I also invite the company to be there to engage in this conversation.” 

Nick Freudenberg, distinguished professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, discussed Chipotle’s history of food borne disease outbreaks.

In 2015 and 2016, Chipotle was rocked by a series of food safety crises that sickened hundreds of customers across the country and included exposure to virulent pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus, resulting in vomiting, pain, and in some cases hospitalizations. Despite claiming major food safety reforms instituted in 2016 to recapture consumer confidence, the company continued to have food-borne illness problems in 2017 and 2018, including an Ohio outbreak in which 647 people were sickened.

Despite Chipotle implementing an “enhanced food safety program” in 2016, the City’s Department of Health found 260 critical violations at 74 out of 84 restaurants from 2017 to 2019. Critical violations are those most likely to pose “a substantial risk to the public’s health” and lead to food-borne illness. The critical violation examples found by health inspectors include food left at dangerous temperatures that allow for the growth of pathogens, practices that allow for the contamination of ready-to-eat foods, evidence of various pests, and stores supervised by managers without a certificate in food protection. Just two weeks ago, the City cited a Chipotle restaurant where they found a crewmember working while “ill with a disease transmissible by food or [an] exposed infected cut or burn on [their] hand”.

Worker advocates and community groups were surprised by the findings and expressed support for Chipotle workers:

“Chipotle has not only acted duplicitously—championing a mission of integrity and freshness in public while speeding up production and cutting corners behind the counter—the company has created added risks for workers and consumers in the pursuit of profits,” said Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Outlined in this report are issues that range from cautionary to alarming. Will Chipotle wait for another outbreak before they take corrective action—or will they take action ‘with integrity’ now to reduce potential harm?”

“This report is vital to understanding that the exploitation of workers in the food industry does not just impact workers and their families, it impacts everyone, including consumers,” Suzanne Adely of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said. “Chipotle and all food service workers deserve fair working conditions. Denying them basic, humane rights like sick days, proper healthy and safe working spaces, cannot be justified. Exploiting food workers for profit does not only harm workers and their families, it harms everyone, including consumers.”

“Chipotle is another example of worker safety and consumer safety being undermined together,” said Charlene Obernauer of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). “Chipotle has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and they need to take the appropriate steps to make this possible.”

“This report details how Chipotle’s low-road labor standards and incentives for managers to cut corners are endangering the dining public,” said Paul Sonn, State Policy Program Director for the National Employment Law Project. “Chipotle needs to recognize that investing in its workforce with stable, quality jobs is essential for delivering a safe and healthy dining experience for its customers.” 

“We are deeply concerned with the workplace issues, especially that of forced arbitration described by Chipotle workers in this study,” Deborah Axt of Make the Road said. “We stand with Chipotle workers, the majority of whom are workers of color and many of whom are from communities like the ones our members are from, in calling for company-wide reforms and a commitment to invest in a stable workforce.”

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About 32BJ SEIU

With 175,000 members in 11 states, including 85,000 in New York, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country. 

About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

Script Your Future launches ninth annual student competition for innovations in medication adherence

January 20, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the ninth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two-month-long intercollegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL), is returning to university campuses across the country after eight years of successful student competition and innovation.

The Challenge is an integral part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by NCL and its partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence in the United States, where nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed.

“Today’s medications are better than ever at treating and curing people, but these treatments can only work if patients know the importance of taking their prescriptions as directed. It takes all members of the health team to make that happen, and pharmacists play a big role in that circle of trust,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For nine years, our Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has galvanized student health professionals to explore creative, interprofessional approaches, in encouraging medication adherence. To usher Script Your Future into the next era of improving adherence, we have implemented two new components to the Team Challenge: technology innovation and vaccine adherence. We have been blown away by the ingenuity of our student teams, and we look forward to how they will contribute to their communities in this year’s Team Challenge.”

The Challenge is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

Starting today through March 20, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—will implement creative outreach approaches in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence. At the end of the Challenge, teams submit entries for review by national partner organizations, and winners are recognized for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

“The Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has provided a tremendous opportunity for health professions students to demonstrate how they can work collaboratively to improve patient care through better medication adherence,” said Dr. Lucinda L. Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. “This Challenge, now in its ninth year, is a powerful example of the impact health professions teams can have on the public health issue of medication adherence.”

Since the Challenge began in 2011, more than 18,800 future health care professionals have directly counseled nearly 78,000 patients and reached more than 26 million consumers about the importance of medication adherence. Last year’s National awardees were Pacific University School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, North East Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (NEOMED), Touro University California College of Pharmacy, and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy earned the Rookie Award for their outstanding contribution during their first year of participation in the Team Challenge.

In addition to the national-level awards, the Challenge also honors teams with focused awards in the areas of health disparities, communications and media outreach, and creative inter-professional team collaboration. In 2019, the Challenge honored the following schools with focused awards: Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (Health Disparities), Touro University College of Pharmacy (Media Outreach), and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (Creative Inter-professional Team Event).

To learn about previous winners, visit https://www.scriptyourfuture.org/

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Challenge Community website at

https://syfadherencechallenge.ning.com/. Tweet along with us during the Challenge using #SYFchallenge, and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.

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About Script Your Future 

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit nclnet.org.

National Consumers League opposes ‘unethical and unjustified’ Grinch cuts to the SNAP program, causing hundreds of thousands of children to lose nutrition assistance

December 9, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Despite widespread opposition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it would tighten work requirements for able-bodied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants without dependents. The National Consumers League joins 140,000 other Americans who overwhelmingly oppose this cruel and unnecessary slashing of an effective safety net program.

Under current regulations, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) can receive food assistance no more than three months out of every three years, unless they work at least 80 hours per month or meet other education or workforce training requirements. Previously, states could waive work requirements when jobs were unavailable or didn’t match workers’ skills, but the rule will make it more difficult to do so, causing an estimated 688,000 people to lose benefits.

The vast majority of the more than 140,000 comments submitted to USDA in response to the rule were written in opposition, including those submitted by NCL Board member National Farmers Union (NFU).

Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director:

“More than 37 million Americans will experience food insecurity this year in the richest country in the world. SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, eases that pain and helps ensure that those in need can put food on their tables. Among our national safety net programs, food stamps is among the most effective. It provides that essential nutrition safety net for American families and especially children– yet this administration has done everything it can to slash gaping holes into that net, preventing hundreds of thousands of children and adults from getting rightful access to these programs. To add to the pain, these work requirements will erode food security in rural and urban communities alike.

“NCL joins with the NFU in believing that these new rules reflect the cold indifference to the struggles of our fellow Americans; we believe it is unethical and unjustified. We continue to call on the administration to rescind this rule, and we stand with the anti-hunger community and the many national, state, and local organizations who seek to support and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL announces new action center to help patients steer clear of deadly counterfeit drug websites

December 5, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today launched Fraud.org/FakeRx, a new digital consumer education campaign to address the growing global crisis of harmful counterfeit medications. The World Health Organization estimates that one in every 10 medical products circulating in developed countries is either substandard or fake, and nearly $83 billion in counterfeit drugs are sold annually. Counterfeit drugs can be, at best, a waste of money and, at worst, fatal.  The Partnership for Safe Medicines has found counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in 48 states, with deaths attributed in 33.

“Counterfeit drugs are everywhere, and they are dangerous. Going to the Internet to buy medicines is a bad idea if you don’t know how to protect yourself from illegal pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs. Consumers do not realize how common counterfeits are; our campaign aims to provide the tools and resources to help consumers steer clear of illegal products and protect themselves and their families,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “NCL is launching Fraud.org/FakeRx to serve as a hub for reliable information for consumers and law enforcement.  Our action center helps consumers learn how to spot the red flags of counterfeit drugs and report issues to law enforcement.”

With the growth of Internet sales of medications, the problem of illegal pharmacies hawking counterfeit drugs is a growing risk to consumers. Visitors to Fraud.org/FakeRx can arm themselves with information to:

  • Reduce the chances they’ll encounter counterfeit drugs and shop safely for medications online
  • Learn to spot harmful counterfeit drugs if they do; and
  • Report counterfeit drugs and the websites offering them to the authorities fighting the problem.

“Criminals posing as legitimate online pharmacies are a serious threat to our nation’s drug supply and to unsuspecting consumers who purchase contaminated or potentially deadly counterfeit medications,” said George Karavetsos, former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Policymakers, regulators, and manufacturers have clear roles for doing their part to protect our drug supply, but having informed consumers is essential to shutting down this illegal online market. This campaign gives consumers the tools they need to stay safe and keep criminals from lining their pockets with consumers’ money.”

NCL has worked with victims of suspected and confirmed counterfeit drugs to capture their experiences and report them to authorities. Two mothers who each lost their adult children to tainted counterfeit medications have lent their stories to the new campaign in hopes of helping others avoid falling to the same fate.

“I lost my son, Jerome, himself a loving big brother and father of three beautiful children, to a counterfeit drug laced with fentanyl. It took one single pill to take Jerome away from us,” said Natasha Butler, whose son was one of a wave of victims of counterfeit drug deaths in Sacramento in 2016. “We had no idea that these dangerous drugs, manufactured to look exactly like the real thing, are out there and could be the last drug someone ever takes. Anyone who takes medication or fills prescriptions needs to be aware of the risks of counterfeits, and that where you get drugs is so crucial for your safety and health. Everyone should visit Fraud.org/FakeRx to learn about the risks and how to avoid being the next victim.”

 “On June 11, 2018 my phone rang at 7:24 am. The voice on the other line told me that my beautiful daughter, Ashley, was dead. Ashley had been given a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl. I was told by the coroner that she probably died instantly,” said Andrea Thomas, a Colorado mother who, since her daughter’s death from a counterfeit drug, co-founded Voices for Awareness Foundation. “The deadly pill Ashley took looked just like her normal medication. This is an epidemic in our country that I previously knew nothing about. It is time to take action. The National Consumers League’s new resources for consumers will help spread awareness and will make a difference to many.”

To hear from additional victims who know the issue firsthand, visit the new Fraud.org/FakeRx. The site also includes tips for consumers about ways to save on prescription drugs without increasing their risks of purchasing counterfeits. 

NCL thanks its partners for providing support for the new campaign: Allergan, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, and PhRMA.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL statement on nomination of Hahn to head FDA

December 3, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, welcomes Dr. Stephen Hahn’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The statement below is attributed to Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director:

“Dr. Hahn is a veteran doctor and cancer researcher who served as chair of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and most recently as chief operating officer and medical executive at MD Anderson in Houston. He holds rare dual board certifications in both medical oncology and radiation oncology and has authored more than 200 academic works. He also brings a wealth of experience supervising and facilitating clinical trials. In an era where science is under attack, Dr. Hahn brings a welcome commitment to evidence-based medicine, science, and research. The FDA is the gold standard across the globe for ensuring the highest standards of safety and efficacy of medications and devices, and for the safety of our food supply. Consumers are being barraged by a plethora of untested products claiming health and safety. The FDA needs a strong leader who will bring an evidence-backed approach to protecting consumers and ensuring a clear pipeline for new therapies that are tested for safety and efficacy and hold true promise for treatments and cures.

“If confirmed, we look forward to working with Dr. Hahn to improve consumer protections in a number of areas, including regulation in the CBD product marketplace, addressing the clear health hazards of e-cigarettes, especially to underage users, and fully implementing the Food Safety and Modernization Act to reduce foodborne illness, which kills an estimated 3,000 people each year. We need a well-funded FDA that can offer a pipeline for medications to treat diseases while protecting the public from unsafe products, including drugs, devices, and foodborne illness.”

Greenberg is a board member of the Reagan Udall Foundation, created by Congress, to support the work of the FDA.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on FDA action regarding CBD

November 29, 2019

Leading consumer advocate urges ‘buyer beware’ as busiest shopping season of the year gets underway

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and a convening partner of Consumers for Safe CBD, today released the following statement in response to FDA’s recent action regarding CBD:

“The decision by the FDA to send 15 new warning letters and remind consumers of potential harm caused by untested and illegal CBD is a step forward in keeping millions of Americans safe. While regular communication from the FDA is helpful, it’s critical that we pursue tangible actions that will lead to broad awareness and prevent the sale of harmful CBD products in a marketplace that is growing by the day. This includes enforcing existing regulations regarding labeling and ingredients, as well as setting safe concentration levels. We cannot wake up a year from now and wish that we had done something when there are practical and achievable solutions right in front of us. Our recent polling shows that 83 percent of registered voters support regulating CBD. We need the gold standard that the FDA provides now more than ever.

“Today marks the start of the busiest shopping season of the year. As consumers head to stores and browse the Internet for deals, we are urging buyer beware when it comes to CBD products. The risk of not getting what you pay for and, even worse, putting one’s own health in jeopardy is far too great. Until the FDA steps in with its stamp of approval, we have no choice but to warn consumers to avoid unregulated CBD products and encourage family and friends to do the same.

“The National Consumers League and Consumers for Safe CBD will continue to work with advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that we keep people safe, provide a much-needed sense of clarity and put the interests of the consumer first.”

Learn more about the CBD Myths and Facts HERE.

Learn more about what could be in CBD products HERE.

See what others are saying about CBD HERE.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

NCL applauds FTC action to reign in deceptive marketing in the wireless industry

November 5, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today, the National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization applauded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its successful investigation and settlement with AT&T after the wireless provider misled millions of its customers. In 2014, the FTC found that AT&T had secretly slowed down or “throttled” consumers’ Internet speeds on their supposedly “unlimited” plans and then charged consumers early termination fees if they wanted to switch providers to receive better service. As a result of thsettlement, AT&T will create a $60 million dollar settlement fund that will be paid out to current and former users of AT&T’s “unlimited” plan. 

The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League: 

“When consumers are promised unlimited data, they should receive unlimited data. AT&T’s policy of slowing down consumers data, to the point where they could no longer stream videos after using as little as two gigabits of data, is a classic example of bait and switch. NCL applauds the FTC’s efforts to protect consumers from false advertising and unscrupulous business practices in the wireless industry. NCL looks forward to seeing the FTC take additional steps to ensure that the marketplace remains fair and honest for all consumers.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.