August 26, 2002
FTC Takes Enforma to Court Again
LOS ANGELES--Enforma Natural Products Inc., based here,is once again in the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) crosshairs. In a releasedated July 25, FTC filed a second civil contempt action against Enforma and itspresident, Andrew Grey, for continuing to violate the terms of a May 2000 finalconsent order prohibiting unsubstantiated claims for weight-loss products thatincluded Fat Trapper Plus, Exercise in a Bottle, Acceleron and Chitozyme. Theaction also included charges against 24/7 LLC, an entity formed by Enforma andGrey, as well as Donna DiFerdinando, Enforma's vice president of research anddevelopment.
This time around, the company's Chitozyme and Acceleron are targeted forusing false and unsubstantiated representations and not including thecourt-mandated disclosure that reducing caloric intake and/or increasingexercise is needed to lose weight. The two products are advertised through twoinfomercials and a Web site (www.enforma2000.com),which include statements such as Chitozyme is "a revolutionary fat trappingproduct that promotes weight loss while letting you still eat your favoritefood, guilt-free."
In its application for civil contempt, FTC alleges the defendants have notprovided competent and reliable scientific evidence that Acceleron aids weightloss by increasing metabolism, or that Chitozyme "traps fat" andcauses weight loss without diet or exercise. FTC also alleged that thedefendants misrepresented results of studies in their advertising and packaging,as well as failed to include court-ordered disclosures in their infomercial.
FTC sought a preliminary injunction to prohibit dissemination of these andother unsubstantiated claims, a recall of all product packaging and labeling,and an order requiring Enforma, Grey, 24/7 and DiFerdinando to turn over allrevenues received by them as a result of the alleged violations of this order.However, on July 23, the judge hearing the case denied FTC's requests andrescheduled another hearing for Sept. 16 to hear FTC's motion for a preliminaryinjunction.
According to DiFerdinando, every product is backed by double blind,placebo-controlled studies, which are reviewed by outside experts such as HarryG. Preuss, M.D., from Georgetown University. She does admit Enforma has changedquite a bit since FTC first approached the company in 2000. "If you look athow we were three years ago as a company and how we did business and how we dobusiness now, it's remarkable in how we do our due diligence now,"DiFerdinando said.
However, she feels FTC is giving Enforma the runaround. "FTC has alwayssaid it wants competent and reliable information," she said, adding thatFTC does not define what kind of information it wants. "What kind of study?How many? They never define it. However, when we go to them with our studies,they say, `You have one? We want two. You have two? We want three. Have doubleblind? We want placebo-controlled.' We're just trying to reach a movingtarget."
In the meantime, as Enforma waits to go to trial yet again, DiFerdinandofeels confident about the outcome. "The FTC has their experts, we haveours. They don't agree, so the court is assigning a third, independent expert toreview the studies to make the call," she said. "I can't wait. Iwelcome it."
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