FTC Wins $2.2M, Injunction in Supplement Diabetes Claims Case

<p>A federal court ruled diabetes claims violated FTC Act&#160; and issued an&#160; injunction against the supplement marketer and its principles.</p>

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Northern California has ruled Wellness Support Network and its principles violated the FTC Act by making several diabetes claims for its dietary supplement. The final judgment called for $2.2 million in consumer redress and instated an injunction against the company and its owners Robert and Robyn Held (father and daughter).

FTC sent its first warning letter to the defendants back in October 2006, advising the company's website, http://www.realfoodnutrients.com, and its product WSN® Diabetic Pack featured claims that caused the product to be a drug under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).  The letter noted the use of language that suggesting a "diabetes breakthrough" and promising to lower blood sugar with no side effects. The site also referenced the support of a Nobel prize-winning scientist and a research study. Endorsements from supposed consumers of the product also touted diabetes improvement, including reduced blood sugar.

FTC filed its motion for injunctive relief and consumer redress in October 2010, and the cae has gone through many back-and-forth motions from both parties until October 2013, when Federal Judge Joseph Spero appeared to reject the defendant's expert witness, Dr. W. Timothy Garvey, and hinted he had made up his mind on the defense presented. In that session, Spero said Garvey was incoherent and lacked focus; he said the expert testimony did not address the issues at hand and would likely be inadmissible.

Last month, Spero rejected the defendant's final motion to dismiss and issued his final judgment to award $2.2 million in restitution along with injunctive relief. As part of the injunction, the defendants must, for a period of 20 years, report to FTC after any change (name, address, business role, etc.) that could affect compliance with the order.

“Giving false hope to those who struggle with a serious illness is disgraceful, and the FTC is determined to ensure that deceptive marketers face the consequences,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  

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