November 8, 2004
Cortisol-control Dietary Supplements Draw FTC AttentionLOS ANGELES--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the marketers of CortiSlim and CortiStress dietary supplements with making false and unsubstantiated claims about the products' health benefits, as well as using deceptive infomercials to market the products. In releasing details of the complaint, filed Sept. 30 against California-based Window Rock Enterprises, Infinity Advertising, Stephen Cheng, Gregory Cynaumon and Shawn Talbott, FTC noted the companies have already developed a stipulated interim agreement to settle the charges. CortiSlim, originally marketed in mid-2003, was marketed as a scientifically-formulated formula designed to control levels of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to rapid weight loss from targeted areas of the body. CortiStress, a complementary product, targeted the stress control market, and marketed to reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. FTC's complaint, filed with U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, charges the marketing claims were false or unsubstantiated. In addition, the agency targeted the defendant for their use of product infomercials that were not clearly marked as paid advertisements throughout the airing. Under terms of the stipulated agreement, the defendants may not make any of the claims targeted by FTC in the complaint, and agree to limit future advertising to claims supported by reliable scientific evidence. Also, the defendants must use appropriate disclaimers prominently in print and television advertising, including infomercials. Finally, FTC will review all financial records from all defendants to determine possible consumer redress. The stipulated agreement includes no admission of wrongdoing or violation of FTC law. Window Rock issued an immediate response to FTC's release, confirming it has been working with the agency to resolve the dispute. "It has always been Window Rocks' policy to actively cooperate and comply with the government agencies that regulate the dietary supplement industry," Cheng said. "Quickly resolving these issues is the best course of action that ensures our ability to continue marketing and distributing products that benefit the health of the American public." Both FTC and Window Rock also referenced a warning letter sent by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in mid-August. In the letter, FDA stated it considered CortiSlim misbranded and in violation of federal law due to allegedly unsubstantiated labeling and marketing claims. FDA noted if prompt action to correct the problems was not undertaken, further enforcement action including injunction or product seizure could follow. In its statement, Window Rock noted it plans to work with FDA to resolve the agency's concerns. The Window Rock action may be only the first of many. Cortisol-control supplements have been widely touted for their ability to support weight loss efforts, leading FTC to issue more than 25 warning letters to Web site operators and other companies marketing products with claims similar to those targeted in the Window Rock complaint. The notice informs companies the agency is unaware of any competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting the disputed claims, advises them to remove such claims (including consumer testimonials) from their marketing, and inform FTC of specific actions taken. Further details on the actions are available online (www.ftc.gov) (www.fda.gov).
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