this blog aims to parse the good from the bad from the truly awful in the supplement aisle. that’s the jellyfish protein that supposedly improves your memory. quincy bioscience, the wisconsin company that manufactures it, claims that prevagen “has been clinically proven to improve memory.” according to the federal trade commission (ftc), which charged quincy bioscience with false and deceptive advertising last january, the company study found that prevagen was no more effective than a placebo at improving any of the nine cognitive skills, including memory, that the company measured. it’s these three positive results that quincy bioscience touts as evidence that prevagen is a “breakthrough” for helping with “mild memory problems associated with aging.” this is an after-the-fact, unplanned exploration of the data to see if anything else of interest happened in the trial. scientists do this all the time, but with a big caveat: post hoc results are considered tentative, not conclusive. that’s because random events happen all the time in scientific studies.
some of them may seem statistically significant, but they’re flukes and not the result of cause-and-effect. the ftc finally challenged quincy bioscience’s claims in court this year, but this september a federal judge in new york dismissed the case in favor of the company. of course, quincy bioscience hadn’t shown that its post hoc results were real, either. it further tilts the playing field in favor of supplement companies and makes it even harder for consumers to figure out which supplements are truly worth buying and which are not. fortunately, ftc announced this month that it would appeal the judge’s decision. meanwhile, quincy bioscience, how about taking some of the more than $165 million consumers have spent on your supplement and do another study to see if prevagen really does anything for memory?
* neuronal calcium dysregulation is an established contributor to age-related deficits in learning and memory.2,3 apoaequorin is a calcium-binding protein found in luminescent jellyfish (aequorea victoria) and is the unique ingredient of prevagen. in a clinical trial, a subgroup of adults with mild, age-related cognitive impairment taking just 1 prevagen a day, over 90 days, achieved improvements in measurements related to memory.11,12* as with any new dietary supplement, pharmacists can be a helpful resource for information and can answer questions regarding the use of prevagen. remodeling of intracellular ca2+ homeostasis in rat hippocampal neurons aged in vitro.
accessed june 1, 2020. accessed june 1, 2020. a novel mechanism for cognitive enhancement in aged dogs with the use of a calcium-buffering protein. doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000172958.95282.2a 14. moran dl, marone pa, bauter mr, soni mg. safety assessment of apoaequorin, a protein preparation: subchronic toxicity study in rats.
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