Search engine firm Google is facing criticism for profiting from consumers' false hopes by running adverts promoting unproven dementia supplements.
Unproven Dementia Supplements
The Times reported that Google sold advertising to retailers of brain supplements under search terms "Alzheimer's pills" and "dementia supplements".
The Mountainview-based tech company approved the adverts regardless of policies that are supposed to keep the ads safe and appropriate for everyone.
Experts raised concern that adverts for unproven treatments appeared above search results that provide information from reputable charities. Some also think the adverts were unethical.
One supplement openly advertised on Google claimed to improve memory with its "clinically studied whole-food ingredients". Another claims it could help brain function based on science taken from over 10,000 studies.
Both products, however, say they were not designed to treat or prevent any disease.
Dementia Remains Incurable
Researchers time and again fail to find a cure for the neurological disease marked by memory problems, confusion, behavioral changes and loss of ability to do daily tasks.
Biogen and Eisai Co. recently halted two-late stage clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of an Alzheimer's drug. The drug is supposed to reduce beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that is closely linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. Unfortunately, the drug did not treat the patients with the debilitating condition.
Researchers continue to conduct studies to find treatment for the disease afflicting millions of Americans, but a cure remains elusive.
"In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer's disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms," the health organization Alzheimer's Association wrote on its website.
Earlier this year, a team of neurologists raised concern over the rise of pseudomedicine for dementia and brain health.
In an editorial published in JAMA, they urged doctors to provide patients with an honest scientific explanation of alleged evidence behind marketing claims in a multibillion-dollar industry targeting consumers who want to prevent or reverse cognitive decline.
"No known dietary supplement prevents cognitive decline or dementia," Joanna Hellmuth, a neurologist at the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, and colleagues wrote in the editorial. "Yet supplements advertised as such are widely available and appear to gain legitimacy when sold by major US retailers."
A March 2018 report showed the industry pitching brain-health supplements generated nearly $3.2 billion in sales in 2016. It is estimated to reach $5,813 million by the year 2023.