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An Analysis of Rexall Showcase International's
"Doctors Speak Out" Audiotape

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The tape begins with the statement, "Rexall has been one of the strongest names in American business, and has been supplying quality health products to customers for over 90 years." This statement is misleading because Rexall Showcase International (RSI)'s parent company merely bought the rights to the Rexall name in 1985 and had nothing whatsoever to do with the operation of the company prior to that time.

The tape then states that "thousands of distributors and customers have lost weight and kept it off with the company's weight management products, and many have dramatically reduced their serum cholesterol levels." To substantiate this statement -- which implies that a typical user who makes no changes but merely uses RSI products would achieve weight reduction and permanent weight control -- it would be necessary to collect data systematically for many years.

Specific Claims

The bulk of the tape consists of testimonials from 33 persons who identify themselves as health professionals: 19 physicians, 5 dentists, 2 chiropractors, 2 nurses, 1 microbiologist, 1 dietitian, 1 podiatrist, and 1 mental health worker. Most of the reports allege that one or more individuals experienced a significant drop in blood cholesterol as a result of taking Rexall's BiosLife product, but some of the reports contain no actual numbers or time frame. None of the reports indicate whether the individuals made dietary changes, exercised more, or did anything else (such as taking a cholesterol-lowering drug). Other claims included:

What Do the Data Mean?

To be considered valid, data must be accurately and systematically recorded, subjects should be typical of the population studied, there should be no confounding variables, and the experiences of product users should be compared to similar individuals who do not use the products. In this case:

Key Questions about BiosLife

Since soluble fiber can help to reduce total cholesterol levels, I would expect that many people using BiosLife (a high-fiber product) would experience a reduction, although not necessarily as high as those reported. However, the following questions should be asked:

The Bottom Line

There is good reason to believe that BiosLife is an effective product, although the cost of using it might be much higher than the cost of increasing dietary fiber with foods. The raw assertions made for the other products do not strike me as credible.

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This article was posted on July 19, 1999.