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FTC Settles Two Dietary Supplement Cases

WASHINGTON--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced two Maine-based dietary supplement marketing companies will pay nearly $1 million to settle FTC charges that they made deceptive advertising claims for their products. In two separate actions, FTC alleged Pinnacle Marketing LLC and VisionTel Communications falsely advertised their dietary supplements could cause substantial weight loss without diet or exercise, and made other false and unsubstantiated weight loss claims.

In the first case, Pinnacle Marketing was targeted for marketing a weight loss system called Ultra Carb, which included a "carb blocker" supplement with white kidney bean extract and chromium picolinate, and a "fat blocker" supplement with chitosan with unsubstantiated claims. Among the disputed claims FTC singled out were that the products would enable users to lose as much as 20 pounds and two to three dress sizes in one month without diet or exercise. Under the proposed stimulated final order, the defendants are prohibited from making such diet representations, making any false or unsubstantiated claims or misrepresenting any scientific research. In addition, the defendants must pay $219,000 in consumer redress, with an "avalanche clause" for $22.5 million due if the company and principals misrepresented their financial condition.

The second case, involving VisionTel, targeted four products, two for weight loss (Chito-Trim with chitosan and TurboTone with white kidney bean extract and chromium) and two for sexual function (a woman's product with androstenediol and a men's product with yohimbine and L-arginine). The defendants will be barred from claiming the weight loss products or similar products cause weight loss without diet or exercise, or cause weight loss by blocking the absorption of fat or calories, and to have credible scientific substantiation for any future efficacy and safety claims for the four products. Consumer redress was set at $750,000, with an avalanche clause of $35 million.

Further details on the cases are available online (www.ftc.gov).

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