Thursday, April 21, 2016

Scam Tactics: Indignantly imply everybody else is wrong i.e. Nerium Proponent's Comment Dissected

English: There are no symbols that represent s...
skepticism, skeptical inquiry, critical thinking,
critical inquiry, and truth-seeking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When you see a random claim, do you simply accept it as is, or do you adopt the Reagan doctrine: "Trust, but verify"?  A skeptic uses the latter.

Indeed, scam tactics often simply deny everything, randomly make some claims, and claimed to be outraged at the lack of facts presented.

Recently I came across this comment by a Nerium proponent. I am going to number the claims (i.e. sentences that appear to be factual, not merely an opinion), and let's verify each one.
Get your facts correct please. Nerium sold at Sears was counterfeit. (1) You will no longer find it there. (2)
The extract itself, NAE-8 is patented. (3) Look it up. Do a tiny bit of research on Jeff Olson (4) (you’ll kick yourself for your ignorance).
The before & afters are from its distributors. (5) One bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch & that apple was taken care of (6) – & others warned.
Most importantly, results from the night treatment are published in the peer-reviewed literature. (7) Try looking up the Journal of Aging, Science, Jr of Clinical & Investigative Dermatology, etc…… (8)
The patented extract is the first superantioxidant on the planet. Look it up. (9)
Please don’t confuse searching with research! Try it, you might just learn something new!

Claim 1: Was Nerium sold at Sears counterfeit?

As we have not seen this listed ANYWHERE (search for Nerium + Sears just brings up similar night creams) we'll have to say "unverifiable", as we have nothing to show either true, or false.


Claim 2: Is Nerium sold at Sears?

Nope, nothing there.

TRUE (but inconsequential, how often have you seen MLM products in retail? Never!)

Claim 3: Is NAE-8 patented?

Nope, NAE-8 is a registered trademark, not a patent. Nerium appears to hold at least two patents on how to extract oleander and aloe, but NAE-8 is not "patented", just trademarked as "non-medicated skin care preparation ingredient" under cosmetics.


Claim 4: Is there anything surprising on Jeff Olson?

Searching for Jeff Olson shows that he used to ran People's Network, a Self-Improvement TV Channel, that got bought by Prepaid Legal in 1997ish, and he became Prepaid Legal's CEO in 1999. In 2001 PL was hit by Wyoming Attorney General with charges of illegal income claims, then SEC also hit Prepaid Legal for misclaiming expenses as assets (i.e. inflating its financial situation). PL was sued hundreds of times in Missouri, won a few, lost more, decided to settle the remaining 400+ cases. Then things were quite until 2009, when both FTC and SEC subpoenaed some documents for fact-finding missions. In 2011 PL was bought out and reorganized, and Olson left (or was forced out) and started Nerium.

Nothing too surprising, or worthy of emulation, IMHO. Got lucky and got acquired, had to wield whip on sales force to keep them in line, and got forced out during corporate shuffle.


Claim 5: Are the before and after photos from distributors?

Some were, but many were on OFFICIAL Nerium videos and flyers. This may be referring to Ray Liotta's lawsuit against Nerium, where some Nerium promoters claimed Ray Liotta used Nerium (he didn't) and showed before and after photos with massive improvement in skin.


Claim 6: Are the "bad apples" (rogue promoters) "taken care of"?

No proof that they were. Unsupported claim.


Claim 7: Were results of Nerium night treatment published in peer-reviewed literature?

Searching for "Nerium" in PUBMED shows one result, which is a cell level test of the main ingredient in Nerium cream, NAE-8.

Searching the Nerium website, under "Clinical Trials", shows NO list of clinical trials, only vague mentions of "studies spanning a five-year period". As Nerium was founded in 2011 (and it's not even their 5 year anniversary yet!) this statement seem to be... so vague that it's worthless.

Searching through MULTIPLE Nerium documents did not clarify the situation. Under "safety research" PDF, again, only vague mentions of "more than 10 years of scientific research and clinical testing by scientists and medical professionals for Nerium SkinCare, Inc" and "when tested in multiple studies over a 3-year period as a topical product". No actual study results were available.

It wasn't until you get the profile on Bloomberg and the article on DSN that the real story came to light... Nerium Biotech was established back in 2006, to make cancer drug and HIV-drug. The cancer drug, Anvirzel, was not effective and FDA had to warn the company (before it became Nerium Biotech) to stop making bogus claims. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's entry on Oleandrin (generic name for Anvirzel) is "no proven effect in human body".  DSN then claimed that the scientists then 'stumbled upon the remarkable anti-aging properties", which lead to them contacting Jeff Olson and partnering for a new company... Nerium Skincare for the cosmetic side (as opposed to the Biotech/Pharmaceutical side), and Nerium International, which is the MLM marketing arm.

It is interesting though, that DSN article claimed that:
White flower of an oleander (Nerium oleander)
White flower of an oleander (Nerium oleander) 
it's poisonous 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Nerium Biotech team presented Olson with a stack of peer-reviewed studies on the extract’s effects on the skin. Impressed but also aware of how critical it is for direct selling companies to defend their claims about their products’ performance, he demanded that they verify the findings with third-party clinical trials: “I knew that we needed to prove that this company was the real deal. One of the mantras that I’ve adopted is to ‘Go Slow to Go Fast.’ I wanted to ensure that we built a company that was worthy of this product." Once the results came in, Olson was convinced. 
So basically Jeff Olson claimed that not only he saw peer-reviewed studies done by Nerium Biotech, the studies were then repeated by "third-party clinical trials" at his order, and he was convinced.

Yet no such trials were listed or available for review on Nerium's website, or listed in PUBMED.

What's even MORE interesting is, in a 2014 CBS/KPIX investigation report, Olson could only produce a SINGLE study by a San Francisco plastic surgeon, who only tested the product on 34 healthy patients. The plastic surgeon admitted that 34 people study is not enough to prove safety in the general population. Olson promised to produce a scientist, then cancelled. Olson then promised to provide more proof, then Nerium lawyers stepped in and claimed that any proof can only be disclosed after signing a NDA, which means it CANNOT be disclosed by the TV station.

So were Nerium's night treatment clinical trial results published in peer-reviewed literature? No evidence that it were. If it were published, it's so secret it may as well not exist.


Claim 8: Were studies about nerium published in "(sic) Journal of Aging, Science, Jr of Clinical & Investigative Dermatology?

Searching for "Journal of Aging Science" yielded only a facebook page, which lead to "". Search there shows NO article under keyword "nerium".

Searching for "Journal of clinical and investigative dermatology" lead to "". Search there shows NO article under keyword "nerium".


Claim 9: Was patented extract (NAE-8) the first superantioxidant on the planet?

NAE-8 was registered as a trademark in 2011. Search of the term "superantioxidant" shows that it was used in New York Times back in 2007 to describe mangosteen, acai, and such "superfruits". Thus, NAE-8 cannot be the "first superantioxidant".


So out of NINE claims... Four were outright false, 2 were unsupported claim (unverifiable), 2 were half-true, and only 1 was completely true, and it had nothing to do with Nerium's reputation.

Not a good record there, Nerium proponent.

As a parting gift...  MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas had to put up a webpage, setting the record clear, that they had NOTHING to do with Nerium, it wasn't developed there, they know nothing about it, and wants NOTHING to do with it.

Imagine what kind of debunking it had to do before they put up a page like this...

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