Rite Aid, the retail giant that claims to promote “health and wellness” for all, is standing by its decision to sell a potentially dangerous and pseudoscientific Himalayan salt “Inhealer” that supposedly helps people “breathe easier without chemical inhalers.”
Chemical inhalers, also known as medicine, have been proven to save lives during an asthma attack. This “Inhealer,” which has no scientific backing and has been promoted by the notorious Dr. Oz, falsely claims to “alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms.”
I first raised this issue on March 13, when I saw the “Inhealer” at my local Rite Aid in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. I posted images on social media, and then contacted Rite Aid directly to request a statement.
After almost a month of waiting for comment, Rite Aid finally got back to me with a response. A company spokesperson told me Rite Aid “offers a variety of products in its store to meet the needs of the customers.”
“It’s important to note that the packaging of the product available in our stores (see photos attached) does not have any reference to respiratory ailments and also includes language that states: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult a qualified health care provider before using the Inhealer. Further, in the instructions included with the Inhealer, it is noted that product should not be used in the event of respiratory distress or as a replacement of medication.”
So, let’s look at the facts here:
1. The package identifies the product as a “CLASS 1 MEDICAL DEVICE” with “adapted for use with Himalayan Salt” in small print.
2. The package advertises “100% natural breathing.” On what is this claim based? We have no idea.
3. The package states that the product “helps remove impurities in the air,” which is unproven.
4. The package explicitly says the product is used for “relief to aid in better breathing.”
5. On the product’s online bio, the manufacture claims it helps users “breathe easier without chemical inhalers” and provides “relief from the inflammation and discomfort of asthma or allergies.”
Rite Aid feels justified in its decision to sell this product, even though it is clearly dangerous. They point to small print on the package saying the product “has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration,” but forget that they’re supposed to be in the business of wellness. As someone who had a good friend die from an asthma attack, I find it offensive that they would risk that sort of tragedy because this product brings in money.
While this product may not be technically illegal (I haven’t verified what the instructions inside say and Rite Aid wouldn’t send me a picture), it is certainly unethical. And I personally will be boycotting Rite Aid until they stop selling it. Feel free to join!
Yours in reason,