Thursday, January 04, 2007

Weight Control Pill Marketers Agree to Forfeit $25 Million to Settle FTC False Claim Charges

This posting was written by John Scorza, CCH Washington, D.C. Correspondent.

The marketers of four major weight-loss pills settled charges that they made false claims about the benefits of the products, the Federal Trade Commission announced on January 4. The marketers agreed to forfeit at least $25 million in cash and assets to settle the charges. Some of the funds will be used for consumer redress. The marketers also agreed to limit their future advertising claims.

“The marketers are required to back the claims with science and if they can’t do that, they can’t make the claim,” FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras remarked.

The FTC settled allegations of deceptive marketing with marketers of Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa and One-A-Day Weight Smart. The FTC charged the marketers with making false and unsubstantiated claims, including claims that the products would result in substantial weight loss. The marketers of Xenadrine EFX actually had a study on hand in which a control group taking a placebo lost more weight than subjects taking Xenadrine EFX, the FTC said. Additionally, the agency charged the marketers of CortiStress, a product related to CortiSlim, with making unproven claims that the product could lessen the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The marketers of Xenadrine EFX will pay $8 million to $12.8 million to settle the FTC charges. The product has been heavily advertised on television and in popular magazines, according to the FTC. In addition to the unsubstantiated claims of substantial weight loss, Xenadrine EFX’s marketing campaign employed paid endorsers who claimed to lose weight by using the product alone, while at the same time undergoing rigorous diet and exercise programs. “You won’t find weight loss in a bottle of pills,” Majoras warned consumers.

The FTC settled with the marketers of CortiSlim and CortiStress, who agreed to surrender assets worth at least $12 million. CortiSlim ads, like other ad campaigns involved in the settlements, ran on television, on radio and in print. The marketers of TrimSpa will pay $1.5 million to settle the FTC charges. The Bayer Corp. will pay a $3.2 million penalty to settle charges that advertisements for One-A-Day WeightSmart multivitamins violated an earlier FTC order requiring all health claims for One-A-Day vitamins to be supported by scientific evidence.

Further details appear on the FTC web site.

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