‘Shark Tank’ guru Mark Cuban: I refuse to get rich off health gimmicks

Mark Cuban has seen hundreds of hopeful entrepreneurs over the years on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and if he’s not interested in a pitch, he usually replies with a polite “I’m out.”

But over the past couple of seasons, Cuban has been highly critical — and increasingly vocal — about one kind of product: supplements.

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“It really bothers me when we have a product that could take advantage of the [people] who trust us,” Cuban tells The Post. “I believe the show has a responsibility to its viewers.”

In fact, during the 11th season premiere in September, a weight-loss promising protein bar infuriated Cuban so much that the entrepreneurs couldn’t even get through their pitch before Cuban started loudly dismissing their inaccurate health claims one by one.

He also recently went toe-to-toe with a doctor who claimed his immune-boosting product worked wonders, despite any evidence to back up the promises. And, last season, he argued with Bethenny Frankel over shaky scientific claims for a hangover product.

What really grinds Cuban’s gears, he says, are “the claims built on pseudoscience.”

“I’m all for people getting healthier, but more often than not, there are no studies that connect directly to the product being offered,” he says. “And when there are studies, they are typically for something that doesn’t replicate how customers would consume the product.”

When companies appear on “Shark Tank,” they can sell “hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of product the week it airs” even if the entrepreneurs don’t get a deal, Cuban says.

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Still, a pissed off billionaire makes for good TV: “The producers know how I feel about [supplements], and me getting on [the entrepreneurs] usually makes the pitch interesting enough to make it on air,” Cuban says. “I do all I can to make sure people know what they are getting, whether it’s a supplement or any product or service.”

But his anger is backed by research. In 2015, the State of New York conducted DNA tests on popular supplements — ginko bilboa, St. John’s wort, ginseng and echinacea. They found that in four out of five cases, the pills contained nothing more than fillers such as rice, asparagus, wheat and — wait for it — houseplants. The garlic contained no garlic. St. John’s wort? None.

As a result of the study, the New York State attorney general’s office requested that the major retailers where the products were purchased — GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens — stop selling herbal supplements altogether.

Like a true Shark, Cuban wasn’t about to let this anti-supplement stance go without turning a profit, so he invested in a company called Labdoor, which independently tests supplements and products from Vitamin C to protein bars to CBD oil.

“It’s shocking how even the best-selling brand names not only have variability in their batches but often significantly vary in mix from their labels,” Cuban says.

But the unregulated industry is still bringing in billions.

“Everyone wants to feel better, to be healthy, to be fit, to look good, and the promise of supplements plays right into that dream,” Cuban says.

Source: New York Post

Author: Melissa Malamut

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