A federal district judge in Atlanta is expected to provide a ruling shortly in a Federal Trade Commission case against the marketers of three weight-loss and health-related dietary supplements. In May, the defendants were ordered to pay more than $40 million for violating a 2008 court order.
The defendants ran an operation known as Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. They allegedly continued to deceptively market the same and other products, in violation of the 2008 order with unsubstantiated claims such as “rapid fat loss,” “fat burner,” “thermogenic,” and “curbs the appetite.”
It is no secret that the FTC serious about claim substantiation issues related to phony health and weight-loss claims.
The case against the defendants began in 2004 when the FTC filed a complaint alleging deceptive claims about the efficacy and safety of “Thermalean” and “Lipodrene,” purported weight-loss products containing ephedra, and “Spontane-ES,” a supposed erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment containing yohimbine.
At the FTC’s request, in December 2008, a federal district court judge ordered the marketers to pay $15.08 million. The court’s final order permanently barred the defendants from claiming that their products cause rapid or substantial weight or fat loss, or affect body fat, appetite, or metabolism unless the claims are true and supported by scientific evidence.
In November 2011, the FTC sought sanctions against the marketers for violating the 2008 final order.
The FTC alleged that, beginning in 2009, the defendants made prohibited weight loss claims for four dietary supplements – Fastin, Lipodrene, Benzedrine, and Stimerex-ES — despite lacking competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate those claims.
In August 2013, the court found the defendants in contempt for violating the 2008 order, held a hearing on sanctions in January 2014, and subsequently issued the final order with a $40 million judgment and product recalls.
The FTC is seeking to have one of the individual defendants jailed for failing to ensure the four weight-loss products were fully recalled.
Consult with an experienced FTC advertising law compliance attorney that is familiar with issues unique to weight loss, dietary and nutraceutical advertising campaigns.
Information conveyed in this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor should it be relied upon, as legal advice.