June 23, 2003
FTC, FDA Crack Down on Coral Calcium
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking for apreliminary and permanent injunction against Kevin Trudeau, Robert Barefoot,Shop America LLC and Deonna Enterprises Inc. from making allegedly false andunsubstantiated claims that Coral Calcium Supreme can treat or cure disease. FTCcharges these claimswhich include coral calcium can treat or cure cancer,multiple sclerosis and heart diseasego far beyond existing scientificevidence regarding the recognized health benefits of calcium. The complaint alsochallenges the defendants claim that a daily serving of Coral Calcium Supremeoffers as much bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk. In addition, FTC isasking for the companys assets to be frozen.
Coral Calcium Supreme is promoted primarily through brochures in addition to30-minute infomercials featuring Trudeau and Barefoot and airing on networkssuch as Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel. The product in question ispurportedly comprised of marine coral from Okinawa, Japan, and costs $19.95 fora 90-count bottle (a 30-day supply).
As part of this crackdown on unsubstantiated coral calcium claims, FTC andthe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent separate, strong warningletters to Web site operators marketing such products as effective treatments orcures for disease. FTC is instructing these sites to remove any false ordeceptive claims immediately, and FDA warns recipients the agency may initiatefurther enforcement action if the violations are not corrected. FTC and FDAfound these sites after surfing the Internet for coral calcium products; bothwill follow up on their letters by revisiting these sites to see if claims havebeen deleted or revised. At press time, the names of companies targeted had notbeen disclosed.
In a separate action, FTC also charged Trudeau with violating a 1998 federaldistrict court order that prohibited him from making unsubstantiated claimsabout the benefits, performance or efficacy of any products. FTC reportedTrudeau has also made alleged unsubstantiated claims for another product,Biotape, which is promoted to significantly reduce severe pain.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) was at the press conference June10 when FTCs and FDAs actions were announced. CRN (www.crnusa.org)handed out materials at the conference, including its May 15 letter to FTC andFDA asking the agencies to take enforcement action to end Barefoots highlyvisible and deceptive marketing campaign, and to publicize this action soother purveyors of coral calcium are aware their marketing campaigns violatefederal law.
The entire industry is tarnished when irresponsible companies appear to begetting away with making illegal claims, said Annette Dickenson, Ph.D., CRNpresident. The dietary supplement industry is regulated by FDA and FTC, andwe look to those agencies to take appropriate enforcement action so consumerscan trust that dietary supplements are marketed truthfully.
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