January 13, 2012
SANTA CRUZ, Calif.Two weight management dietary supplements are banned from sale in 10 California counties, after prosecutors found they did not contain the labeled Hoodia. The counties reached a settlement with Florida-based maker of the two products, GeoPharma Inc., as well as Breakthrough Engineered Nutrition, Mihir Taneja and Carol Dore-Falcone banning the sale of Dex-L10 and Dex-L10 Complete products in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Napa, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Shasta, Solano and Sonoma counties.
As part of the settlement, Taneja and Dore-Falcone, the principals of the company, are also prohibited from making claims about the efficacy of a product without having competent and reliable scientific evidence. This is the same marketing claims standard followed by FTC, and as Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro and Ullman noted, " I am unaware of any controlled, well-designed study that demonstrates efficacy for the kind of claims we see for a lot of hoodia products. The FTC has also said it haven't seen a single study that provides scientific evidence for hoodia as a weight loss aid."
The labels claimed the supplements contained Hoodia Gordonii, a succulent known for its appetite-suppressant properties, but, according to the Mercury News, Santa Cruz County prosecutors tests found the herb was not in the supplements. In response to the tests, county prosecutors filed an injunction against the company, which lead to a ban of the sale in Santa Cruz county in September 2011.
"Here we are not only seeing the claims that bring regulatory attention," Ullman said, "we see they weren't even bothering to put in the hoodia." He added, "Based on what I've seen it seems like an appropriate case. When regulatorslocal, state, federalcan demonstrate this kind of disregard for the rules, bring enforcement action and push a company to follow the rules, I think they do the whole industry a favor."
While the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's office started the investigation, it was later joined by prosecutors in the nine other counties. The suit was filed in Solano County.
The Santa Cruz Patch reported GeoPharma, which was once listed on the New York Stock Exchange, went bankrupt after the injunction.
Late last year, the FTC settled cases against three individuals and two companies associated with a 2009 complaint involving claims made for hoodia products.
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