Drugstore.com's Sorry Relationship with Dr. Andrew Weil

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


In August 2005, drugstore.com, the largest online pharmacy, filed suit against Andrew Weil, M.D. and Weil Wellness LLC for breach of a contract under which Drugstore.com would be the exclusive distributor of Weil's branded products and online "Vitamin Advisor" program. The announcement (shown below) suggests that Weil does not profit from his "educational" activities. However, the drugstore.com contract called for direct payments totaling $1.6 million to Weil and minimum royalty payments totaling $12.4 million to Weil Wellness LLC from September 2003 through June 2008.

Drugstore.com began featuring Weil's advice and products in October 2003, but the suit charges that Weil failed to "make commercially reasonable efforts" to promote what was covered by the agreement. Weil's"Vitamin Advisor" uses an online questionnaire to promote "personalized products" said to be "based on your specific health concerns." However, virtually everyone who takes the test is encouraged to spend $40 or more per month for supplements that are unnecessary, inappropriate, overpriced, and/or irrationally formulated. The suit document is posted on Casewatch.



drugstore.com, inc. Announces Expanded Relationship with Dr. Andrew Weil

BELLEVUE, WA, July 23, 2003 -- drugstore.com, inc. (Nasdaq:DSCM), the leading online retailer of health, beauty, wellness, personal care and pharmacy products, today announced that it is expanding its relationship with Dr. Andrew Weil and Polaris Health, LLC, to provide consumers with a more comprehensive resource for integrative health education and information. As part of the five-year deal, drugstore.com™ will work with Dr. Weil and Polaris to develop an Integrative Medicine section on the drugstore.com™ web site to provide consumers with information, resources, and a broad selection of products related to health and wellness.

"We are very excited about taking our relationship with Dr. Weil to the next level," said Kal Raman, president and CEO of drugstore.com, inc. "Under Dr. Weil's leadership, Integrative Medicine has combined the best medical and therapeutic practices from around the world to form a unified approach to health maintenance. drugstore.com™ can now provide an extensive online resource that will educate and inform consumers about all aspects of Integrative Medicine."

As part of its relationship with Dr. Weil, drugstore.com™ offers a free Vitamin Advisor program at DrWeil.com. The online Vitamin Advisor program, developed under the guidance of Dr. Weil and members of his Science Advisory Board, provides specific vitamin and nutritional supplement recommendations based on each person's age, gender, medical and family history, diet, lifestyle, and medications. Customers can order personalized vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements in pharmaceutical-grade, daily-dose CustomPaks™ that reflect Dr. Weil's philosophy on Integrative Medicine and optimum health.

About Dr. Andrew Weil

An internationally recognized expert on medicinal herbs, mind-body interactions, and integrative medicine, Andrew Weil, M.D., is a Harvard Medical School graduate who also holds an A.B. degree in biology from Harvard University. He is a clinical professor of internal medicine as well as the founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona's Health Sciences Center in Tucson, where he is training a new generation of physicians. Dr. Weil has recently established a nonprofit organization, the Polaris Foundation, to advance the cause of integrative medicine through public policy, education, and research. In addition, Dr. Weil is the author of eight books, including the national bestsellers "Spontaneous Healing," "8 Weeks to Optimum Health," and "Eating Well for Optimum Health."

About Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is a healing-oriented system that brings together the best medical and therapeutic practices from around the world to form a unified approach to health maintenance. The common thread among the varied therapies that form the basis of integrative medicine is the consistent focus on the body's own innate mechanisms of healing. It is not simply about teaching doctors to prescribe herbs or acupuncture in addition to or in place of medications.

Integrative Medicine emphasizes a true partnership between patient and practitioner that addresses healing on all levels - especially lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress, quality of sleep, relationships, and work, as well as the appropriate use of dietary supplements, herbs, and other forms of treatment.

About DrWeil.com

DrWeil.com is a leading provider of online information and products for optimum health and wellness. For the last five years, the "Ask Dr. Weil" online feature of the premier web destinations, www.drweil.com and www.askdrweil.com, has provided a tradition of quality online solutions for consumers and professionals, and was notably one of the first online help resources available on the Web. DrWeil.com is owned by Polaris Health, LLC, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based holding company founded by Andrew Weil, M.D. All of Dr. Weil's after-tax profits from products and services derived from Polaris Health, LLC, go directly to the Polaris Foundation, a nonprofit foundation supporting Dr. Weil's dream of advancing the cause of Integrative Medicine and optimum health around the world. Dr. Weil does not personally benefit, directly or indirectly, from the capital proceeds of Polaris Health, LLC, or the Polaris Foundation.

About drugstore.com

drugstore.com, inc. (Nasdaq:DSCM) is the leading online health, beauty, wellness, personal care and pharmacy solution in the world. The drugstore.com™ online store provides a convenient, private, and informative shopping experience that encourages consumers to purchase products essential to healthy, everyday living. The online store offers thousands of brand-name personal healthcare products at competitive prices; a full-service, licensed retail pharmacy; and a wealth of health-related information, buying guides, and other tools designed to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Consumers can personalize their shopping experiences with shopping lists, e-mail reminders for replenishing regularly used products, and private e-mail access to pharmacists and beauty experts for questions.

drugstore.com, inc. has been awarded the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) certification by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) as a fully licensed facility exercising the best safe pharmacy practices in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.

Contact:

Lippe Taylor for drugstore.com, inc.
Sean McMahill, 212-598-4400 ext. 119
smcmahi@lippetaylor.com

This page was posted on September 8, 2005.

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