NCL statement on FDA decision regarding CBD regulatory framework

January 27, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, applauds the FDA’s decision that “a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight needed to manage risks.”

NCL has been actively monitoring the growing threats to consumer safety as the market for untested, unapproved cannabidiol (CBD) products has exploded.

“This announcement is a critical step in the right direction. NCL supports FDA’s assessment that the existing dietary supplement and conventional food pathways are not appropriate for CBD,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We are encouraged to see regulators prioritizing science and consumer safety, and we are committed to working with Congress, the FDA and other stakeholders to explore potential regulatory pathways that prioritize management of health risks associated with CBD and acceleration of rigorous research into cannabinoids’ therapeutic potential.”

“To that end, NCL was pleased to see FDA highlight the need for risk management tools, including clear labels, CBD content limits, and measures, such as minimum purchase age, to mitigate the risk of ingestion by children.”

Along with our partners – the Consumer Federation of America and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America – NCL created the Consumers for Safe CBD in 2019, now Cannabis Consumer Watch, to educate consumers about the potential dangers of CBD in an unregulated market.

“We will continue advocating for policies that preserve meaningful, scientific research incentives while protecting public health,” Greenberg said. “As Congress works to develop a new regulatory pathway for CBD, it is critical that we bear in mind there’s greater urgency to address the risks posed by intoxicating cannabinoid products in the hemp market. As we’ve seen, these products pose significant risks to consumers, and must be addressed. Science should continue to guide policy discussions to ensure a safe and effective regulatory pathway.”

To learn more, visit cannabiswatch.org.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

Advocates call on DOT to mandate easier airfare cost comparison

January 25, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – Yesterday, the National Consumers League (NCL) and a coalition of six consumer and passenger rights organizations filed comments with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of proposed regulations requiring the earlier disclosure of common airline ticket add-on fees. DOT’s proposed rules would require airlines and ticket agents to display fees associated with checked baggage, ticket changes and cancellations, and family seating on the first page of airfare search results. 

“It is extremely difficult and time-consuming for consumers to do accurate apple-to-apples comparisons when shopping for airline tickets,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud. “DOT’s proposed rules would promote competition by making it harder for airlines and ticket agents to hide some of the most egregious add-on fees in the fine print at the end of the ticket-buying process.” 

“The airlines love to nickel-and-dime passengers with junk fees, and in far too many cases travelers are hit with sticker shock when they finally realize the true cost of flying,” said William J. McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation & Travel at American Economic Liberties Project. “We urge the DOT to address transparency of fees, and to eliminate certain fees altogether. This applies especially to fees for families with young kids to sit together, an issue Congress directed the DOT to address in 2016.” 

“If airlines are going to continue to devise and impose all sorts of unreasonable fees, they must be required to reveal each fee when travelers first search for price and availability,” said Ruth Susswein, Consumer Action’s Director of Consumer Protection. 

“Airlines have come up with all sorts of extra fees over the years: baggage fees, change fees, seat selection fees and more. We believe airlines should be required to disclose these fees before someone begins the actual booking process, not at the end. And these fees should be disclosed up front in real time to ticket agents that provide fare information. This would encourage price competition and ultimately give consumers more transparency in pricing,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog for Public Interest Research Group. 

To view the coalition’s full comments to DOT, click 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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL applauds bipartisan interest in reining in ticketing monopoly 

January 24, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The National Consumers League (NCL) today applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding a landmark hearing examining how Ticketmaster-Live Nation’s monopoly harms fans and competition in the live event industry.  

“Just as we warned in 2009 when the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger was proposed, the company has become a behemoth that controls many aspects of the live event industry and wields its market power ruthlessly,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. Ticketmaster sells tickets for 80 out of the top 100 arenas. Their presence in nearly every aspect of the industry—from event promotion to venue operationsmakes it almost impossible for small, independent competitors to succeed. This is a monopoly. 

Consumers often have no choice but to deal with Ticketmaster when seeing their favorite artist or sports team. This makes some of the corporation’s business practices inescapable, such as adding 78% to the ticket price in hidden fees. 

Today’s hearing showed that there is a strong support for free markets—regardless of party,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. Senators from both sides of the aisle centered the experiences of fans, artists, independent promoters and venue owners, recognizing the harms caused by Live Nation’s market consolidation. Witnesses repeatedly described a pervasive fear of retaliation if they and other live event industry stakeholders speak up about Live Nation’s monopolistic practices. It is our hope that their testimony gives more actors in the live event industry confidence that Ticketmaster-Live Nation is not above the law. 

Since 2009, NCL has opposed the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger. Most recently, NCL has been working as part of the Break Up Ticketmaster coalition to urge the Department of Justice to enforce existing federal antitrust laws and take action against Ticketmaster to increase competition in the marketplace. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL urges FTC to prohibit user review manipulation

January 10, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The National Consumers League (NCL) this week filed comments in support of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulation to ensure the reliability of user reviews. In its comments, NCL urged the FTC to prohibit user reviews from individuals who did not purchase a product or service (or are misrepresenting their experiences with a product or service) and to prohibit sellers from manipulating consumer reviews. In addition, the League advocated for the Commission to require hosts of user reviews to implement measures to protect review integrity, such as requiring purchase verification.  

“Consumers frequently cite user reviews as a key factor when deciding what to buy,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud. “As a result, fake endorsements steer billions of dollars each year towards certain products and away from competitors. The impacts range from buyers receiving goods of poorer quality than expected to serious safety risks.” 

NCL also encouraged the FTC to prohibit the commercial exploitation of social media engagement metrics, such as buying and selling likes, comments, or shares. Such practices can be used to boost fraudulent product reviews and endorsements, allowing bad actors to manipulate social media platforms to broaden their reach. 

“Right now, it is extremely easy to spend a few dollars and receive hundreds of likes, followers, or other signals that a product or service is of high quality,” said Eden Iscil, NCL Public Policy Manager. “By jumpstarting a post with purchased engagement, the content has a greater chance of reaching a real audience—and being believed by them. Such practices not only affect consumers making purchasing decisions but can also be used to spread other types of misinformation.” 

The FTC initiated this regulatory process following NCL’s request for greater federal enforcement against organized user review fraud, which can be found here 

NCL’s full comments to the FTC can be found 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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL supports FTC efforts to ban non-compete clauses

January 6, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, applauds the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) initiative to ban non-compete clauses. Such provisions prevent employees from taking new jobs in the same industry, violating free-market values and dampening fair competition. 

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer, Sally Greenberg: 

“Non-compete clauses harm workers by blocking them from seeking better wages and working conditions. They also reduce market competition by barring other businesses from attracting talent and stopping employees from setting up their own shops. The FTC’s proposed ban on non-compete clauses is a significant step towards a more fair and free economy for all.

Allowing the unrestricted movement of labor will benefit consumers in addition to workers and competitive businesses. NCL has long believed that consumers stand to gain when purchasing goods and services provided by a healthy and robust workforce. We look forward to supporting the FTC’s efforts to prohibit non-compete clauses across the country.”

The FTC estimates that once its ban on non-compete clauses goes into effect, workers earnings would increase by nearly $300 billion per year, creating new opportunities for approximately 30 million individuals. Furthermore, these unjust clauses harm all incomes groups, with a 2019 report finding that 29% of workplaces offering an average hourly pay under $13.00 were subjecting their employees to a non-compete agreement. 

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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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League applauds FDA’s decision increasing access to Mifepristone (the “abortion pill”)

January 5, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

Washington, D.C. – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s decision this week to lift a major barrier blocking access to medication abortion care marks an important step forward for women.  Mifepristone is a drug that blocks the hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue. Mifepristone, when used together with another medicine called misoprostol, is used to end a pregnancy through ten weeks gestation.  And it is safe.

The FDA posted the following on its website: “Mifepristone is safe when used as indicated and directed and consistent with the Mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program. The FDA approved Mifeprex more than 20 years ago based on a thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence presented and determined that it was safe and effective for its indicated use.  As of 2016, it can be used for medical termination of pregnancy up to 70 days of gestation.  The FDA’s periodic reviews of the postmarketing data for Mifeprex and its approved generic have not identified any new safety concerns with the use of mifepristone for medical termination of pregnancy through 70 days gestation. As with all drugs, the FDA continues to closely monitor the postmarketing safety data on mifepristone for the medical termination of pregnancy.”

NCL urges continuous attention on this issue. While FDA moved things forward by expanding access, too many people remain without care options because they live in states that ban telehealth for medication abortion or have banned abortion outright.

FDA’s lifting of the in-person dispensing requirement and establishing a new program to certify both brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies to dispense mifepristone is a turning point for so many, especially young women and women in abusive relationships who may not have the privacy to receive medication by mail.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

NCL welcomes FDA heightened concerns related to CBD products

December 29, 2022 [Updated]

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 703-298-2614

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, is welcoming of the FDA’s heightened concern and attention to consumer safety risks in the CBD or cannabidiol consumer product market.

“The FDA’s continued engagement and work in the CBD consumer product market is critical to protecting consumer safety – the agency’s increased attention to CBD products is welcome news,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Chief Executive Officer.

In 2019, in response to the proliferation of unreviewed and untested CBD products, NCL identified the need for greater education among consumers about CBD and better enforcement of regulations in the CBD marketplace. NCL created Consumers for Safe CBD to address this need, champion the rights of consumers, and call on government and industry to do better – to ensure safety and promote a pathway for new products through clinically tested scientific research.

Since then, action has been taken on the state and federal levels to increase access to cannabinoids beyond CBD, which is why NCL is now shifting its focus to cannabis more broadly with the establishment of Cannabis Consumer Watch. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. It is one of the main ingredients in cannabis, but unlike THC, it does not cause a high or have psychoactive effects.

“NCL called on the FDA to develop regulations for the CBD marketplace. We also asked the CBD industry to ensure safety and promote a pathway for new products through clinically tested scientific research,” said Greenberg.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation in the U.S., which led to significant growth in the CBD marketplace.

“Since 2019, NCL and other groups like the Consumer Federation of America and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America have been asking the FDA to step in and address the CBD marketplace – which is currently a ‘Wild West,’ with myriad unsubstantiated claims made by many in the industry about the so-called benefits of CBD products for everything from sleep disorders to cancer to pain relief, without regard to safe dosages,” Greenberg noted. “We want the agency to establish a regulatory framework for the legal sale of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products. Some industry members have been asking for rules of the road as well. Any regulatory framework FDA recommends for cannabis-derived products must prioritize consumer safety and address the safety risks the agency has identified.”

There is only one FDA-approved drug on the market that employs CBD as its active ingredient – Epidiolex – a medication to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy. That drug has undergone the rigorous FDA approval process and thus has substantiated therapeutic benefits that outweigh the risks which can be managed by prescribing physicians.

Cannabis Consumer Watch will continue to work to educate consumers about the potential dangers of CBD in an unregulated market and encourage the FDA to take strong, effective, and prompt action to protect the public from the potential harms posed by unregulated, untested CBD.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League urges Southwest Airlines to invest in consumer protection

December 27, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. – The poor performance of domestic airlines, namely Southwest Airlines, over the holiday season is yet another call to action for reform to the air travel industry. The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly urges Southwest Airlines to take all actions necessary to make both consumers and its employees whole, as well as to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring in the future. Additionally, the federal government should not delay in implementing the number of pending regulations that would strengthen consumer protections in air travel, including a proposed rule that would require refunds for stranded travelers. 

Air carriers should function to alleviate consumer and employee issues, not exacerbate them. Reports of passengers unable to contact Southwest Airlines representatives to rebook cancelled flights or find lost baggage are distressing and emblematic of longstanding issues within the industry. Moreover, complaints from airline employees of outdated operations systems further disrupting service also highlight the lack of action taken to mitigate the issues faced by both consumers and workers over the holidays. 

NCL urges Southwest Airlines to issue refunds to affected consumers without delay. Additionally, Southwest Airlines should invest significantly in improving customer service capacity and updating operations technology.

The travel meltdowns that are occurring this holiday season are another reminder that we must reform the governmental policies surrounding air travel. NCL is pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking into Southwest Airlines’ performance, especially as it is the sole governmental agency with oversight of air carriers. 

The DOT should act quickly to promulgate regulations that require refunds to consumers in the event of a significant delay or cancellation, alongside other pending rules. Additionally, the DOT should implement recommendations from consumer advocates and state attorneys general, including a proposal to require airlines to provide travelers accommodations for meals and overnight lodging when necessary.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

DeSantis’s anti-vax claims are wrong and dangerous, says NCL

December 22, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 703-298-2614

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Consumers League was very disappointed to learn that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced that he is requesting a statewide grand jury investigation into alleged “crimes and wrongdoings” relating to the COVID-19 vaccine. He is forming a public health policy committee whose charge is to review public health recommendations and guidance made by federal health experts and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The committee will be overseen by the state’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who himself has repeatedly made anti-vaccination claims.

“For a public official of Governor DeSantis’s stature to make these baseless anti-vaccination claims is wrong and dangerous,” says NCL Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg. “The governor has reversed course from supporting the roll out of the COVID vaccine and now is raising questions, against all scientific evidence, about the efficacy and safety of these critically important medicines. COVID vaccinations have been found overwhelmingly effective in reducing the risk of infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has killed more than 1 million Americans, most of whom were unvaccinated.”

In a study of  4,000 healthcare personnel, police, firefighters, and other essential workers, the CDC found that the vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent after one shot. Protection increased to 90 percent following the second dose. The findings are consistent with clinical trial results and studies showing strong effectiveness in Israel and the United Kingdom, and in initial studies of healthcare workers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and in Southern California.

Protecting public health remains one of NCL’s focus, and vaccinations are one of the most effective public health prevention tools available to keep consumers and workers safe from severe and potentially deadly diseases.

We call upon all officials – including Governor DeSantis – who hold positions of responsibility and visibility, to rely on evidence-based medicine and science before making unfounded claims.

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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 https://nclnet.org.

National Consumers League names Robin Strongin to lead Health Policy

December 14, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

WASHINGTON DC. –  National Consumers League (NCL)-the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, has named Robin Strongin Senior Director, Health Policy, beginning January 4, 2023.  Robin will oversee NCL’s robust health care portfolio.

An accomplished public affairs expert with decades of experience working in Washington, D.C., Robin has worked with and for federal and state governments, regulatory agencies, the White House, Congress, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, corporations, start-ups, coalitions, and trade associations. Robin served as a Presidential Management Intern and worked in the Office of Legislation and Policy in the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission (now the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) in addition to serving in the Office of Congressman James J. Florio (D-NJ).  Robin spent a decade as a senior research associate at George Washington University’s National Health Policy Forum.

Robin ran Amplify Public Affairs, LLC and launched an award-winning Disruptive Women in Health Care blog®; she also served on the following boards: the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (founded by Dr. Oliver Sacks); AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute Advisory Committee; Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy; Older Women’s League; Physician-Parent Caregivers; and The Hill newspaper Publisher’s Advisory Board. In October 2015, Robin was named to the National Alzheimer’s Scientific, Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council of the PCORI-funded Alzheimer’s & Dementia Patient/Caregiver-Powered Research Network (AD-PCPRN); and named a Woman of Impact (https://www.womenofimpact.org) in December 2015.

“The National Consumers League is a powerful force in leading and advocating for consumers’ health and safety,” said Strongin. “I’m deeply honored to be part of a team dedicated to this critical mission and I look forward to working with Sally Greenberg, the board, and the entire team to achieve our vision.”

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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 https://nclnet.org.