Nathan Brown on the FDA and “Liver-Friendly” Vodka

Akin Gump health care and life sciences partner Nathan Brown was quoted by health and medicine publication STAT for its article “A ‘liver-friendly’ vodka? Scientists and regulators may need convincing,” on Bellion Vodka, a spirit that is touted as having hepatic health benefits that the producer wants to advertise on the bottle.

According to the article, the vodka’s producer has petitioned the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which overseas labeling on alcoholic beverages, and the Food and Drug Administration for permission to advertise the claimed health benefits on the label.

Brown, who worked in the FDA’s offices of the Chief Counsel and Regulatory Affairs, said that Bellion’s claims could come under the agency’s scrutiny, noting, “If the company makes a claim for protecting the liver, as opposed to a more limited claim, then the product would likely be treated as a drug. I also think more broadly that the FDA would have some public health concerns, much like they did about five years ago for caffeinated alcoholic beverages.”