CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

FTC Cracks Down on Weight Loss Products

Dietary supplement labeling issues come to the fore again, which is why manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and cosmetics need good legal advice on their labeling.

Marketers of Unproven Weight-Loss Products Ordered to Pay Nearly $2 Million

Court Rules in Favor of FTC in Case of Diet Tea and Bio-Slim Patch

A federal district court has ordered the marketers of an herbal tea and a diet patch to pay nearly $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission for making deceptive claims that both products would allow users to lose weight quickly without diet or exercise.

For nearly two years before the FTC complaint was filed, Bronson Partners, LLC and its officer, Martin Howard, marketed Chinese Diet Tea, telling consumers they could lose as much as six pounds a week by drinking one cup of the green tea after each meal to “neutralize the absorption of fattening foods.” Advertising in national magazines such as USA Weekend and Clipper Magazine, the marketers charged $24.95 plus shipping and handling for a month’s supply.

Also during this time, the marketers sold the Bio-Slim Patch, a diet patch that contained extracts from the fucus, garcinia, and guarana plants. Instructing consumers to wear the patches 24 hours a day for at least three months, the marketers claimed that “repulsive, excess ugly fatty tissue will disappear at a spectacular rate due to the combination and synergy of these three natural ingredients.” The marketers advertised the patch in national magazines and in a company catalog, and consumers paid $24.95 plus shipping and handling for a month’s supply.

In addition to ordering the nearly $2 million payment, citing “obvious and widespread” violations of the FTC Act, Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granted the FTC’s request to prohibit the defendants from deceptively selling or advertising any weight-loss products. “Future violations of a similar nature would surely result in financial harm to consumers, and possible physical harm if consumers engage in risky weight-loss techniques in reliance on (the) defendants’ misleading representations,” the judge wrote in his December 2009 ruling and order. He also ordered the defendants to help the FTC identify consumer victims who lost money on the products, so that restitution can be made.

The FTC filed its complaint against Bronson Partners, LLC and Martin Howard as part of the “Big Fat Lie” law enforcement sweep in November 2004. The sweep targeted marketers of bogus weight-loss products, such as pills, powders, gels, green teas, and diet patches. In July 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granted the FTC’s request for summary judgment against Howard and Bronson Partners, LLC – also doing business as New England Diet Center and Bronson Day Spa.

Copies

of the November 2004 complaint and the December 2009 ruling and order are available on the FTC’s Web site at

http://www.ftc.gov

and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online

Complaint Assistant

or call 1-877-FTC-HELP1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-43571-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of

consumer topics

To assess your healthcare legal and regulatory issues, contact the Michael H. Cohen Law Group.  Our healthcare and FDA legal team counsels health and wellness products and technologies, practices, and ventures, that accelerate health and healing.


Michael H CohenMichael H Cohen
Founder
The Los Angeles / San Francisco / Bay Area-based Michael H Cohen Law Group provides healthcare legal and FDA legal & regulatory counsel to health & wellness practices and ventures, including health technology companies (medical devices to wearable health and nanotech), healthcare facilities (from medical centers to medical spas), and healthcare service providers (from physicians to psychologists).Our legal team offers expertise in corporate & transactional, healthcare regulatory & compliance, and healthcare litigation and dispute resolution, in cutting-edge areas such as anti-aging and functional medicine, telemedicine and m-health, and concierge medicine.Our Founder, attorney Michael H. Cohen, is an author, speaker on healthcare law and FDA law, and internationally-recognized thought leader in the trillion-dollar health & wellness industry.
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