August 28, 2012
WASHINGTONFTC is mailing out more than $6 million in refunds to customers of weight-loss and sex supplements marketed by National Urological Group and Hi Tech pharmaceuticals, which were ordered to provide money for consumer redress as part of a $15 million total settlement of FTC false-advertising charges in 2008. FTC said it is sending out 153,109 checks for $40.45 each, which will be good for 60 dayschecks need to be cashed on or before Oct. 23, 2012.
A federal court ruled in 2008 in favor of FTC, which had accused the two companies, as well as National Institute for Clinical Weight Loss (now-defunct) and HI Tec executives Jared Wheat, Stephen Smith and Thomasz Holda, of deceiving consumers on the safety and efficacy of the three supplements. Specifically, Lipodrene and Thermalean were marketed as clinically proven to cause substantial weight loss, including a 19-percent loss in total body weight. Similarly, advertisements for Spontane-ES said the product was clinically proven to safely and effectively treat 90 percent of men with erectile dysfunction (ED).
The corporations and individuals were liable for a total of $15.8 million in penalties, which included money for refunds. Also, Terrill Mark Wright, M.D., was ordered to pay $15,454 for his deceptive endorsement of Thermalean. The defendants were also banned from claiming their products treat obesity or ED, are clinically tested or scientifically proven to be safe or effective, or have other health or safety benefits, unless the claims, including endorsements, are true, not misleading, and based on reliable scientific evidence. The settlement order also banned the defendants from misrepresenting the existence, validity, results, or conclusions of any test or study. The final settlement included record-keeping provisions that allow FTC to monitor the defendants' compliance.
FTC advised consumers with questions about the refund process can call toll free, at 1-877-483-2883, or visit the FTCs refunds website.
For more on how companies can legally and responsibly make health claims via labeling and advertising, check out the SupplySide R&D Insights feature: Hierarchy of Study Designs for Health Claim Substantiation , as well as the Product Claims Legal Checklist on SupplySide Community, where there have been many discussions of claims issues .
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