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Posted May 11, 2006

Weight-Loss Marketers Pay $3 Million for Deceptive Advertising

On May 11, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that sellers making questionable weight-loss and fat-loss claims to peddle skin gels and diet supplements will pay $3 million to settle charges that their deceptive claims violated federal law. The settlement bars unsubstantiated claims in the future and bars the marketers from misrepresenting studies or endorsements.

According to the FTC’s Complaint, the ads for three skin gels – Tummy Flattening Gel, Cutting Gel, and Dermalin APg – claimed they melted away fat wherever applied, including a user’s thighs, tummy, even a double chin. Ads for Leptoprin and Anorex, two ephedrine pills, claimed they caused weight loss of more than 20 pounds. The advertising for PediaLean fiber pills for overweight children claimed the pills caused substantial weight loss. The FTC alleged the marketers lacked a reasonable basis to back up these claims. In addition, the FTC alleged the ads falsely claimed that clinical testing proved those claims for four of the challenged products and misrepresented their spokesperson as a medical doctor.

Sellers making questionable weight-loss and fat-loss claims to peddle skin gels and diet supplements will pay $3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their deceptive claims violated federal law. The settlement bars unsubstantiated claims in the future and bars the marketers from misrepresenting studies or endorsements.

According to the FTC’s Complaint, the ads for three skin gels – Tummy Flattening Gel, Cutting Gel, and Dermalin APg – claimed they melted away fat wherever applied, including a user’s thighs, tummy, even a double chin. Ads for Leptoprin and Anorex, two ephedrine pills, claimed they caused weight loss of more than 20 pounds. The advertising for PediaLean fiber pills for overweight children claimed the pills caused substantial weight loss. The FTC alleged the marketers lacked a reasonable basis to back up these claims. In addition, the FTC alleged the ads falsely claimed that clinical testing proved those claims for four of the challenged products and misrepresented their spokesperson as a medical doctor.

Ads for the products ran on television, in magazines, and in tabloids. The products were also marketed on the Internet. Leptoprin was heavily advertised through short-form television infomercials. Ads for the skin gels ran in Cosmopolitan, Muscle and Fitness, and other magazines. PediaLean was advertised in tabloids and magazines such as The Enquirer and Redbook.

Under the FTC’s final order, the primary company, Basic Research, will pay $3 million on behalf of all six companies and three individuals charged in this case: Basic Research, LLC, A.G. Waterhouse, LLC, Klein Becker USA, LLC, NutraSport, LLC, Sovage Dermalogic Laboratories, LLC, BAN LLC, Dennis Gay, Daniel B. Mowrey (also doing business as American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory) and Mitchell K. Friedlander.

The FTC’s final order prohibits the marketers from making unsubstantiated claims that Dermalin-APg, Cutting Gel, Tummy Flattening Gel, Anorex, Leptoprin, PediaLean, or any substantially similar product causes weight loss or fat loss and misrepresenting the effects of a product through the use of product names or endorsements. When they make weight-loss or fat-loss claims for any products, they must rely on competent and reliable scientific evidence. The marketers must also have substantiation to support representations that any food, drug, or dietary supplement has an effect on any disease, on the structure or function of the human body, or other health or weight-loss benefits. They cannot misrepresent any test, study, or research, or the profession, expertise, training, education, experience, or qualifications of any endorser.

Ads for the products ran on television, in magazines, and in tabloids. The products were also marketed on the Internet. Leptoprin was heavily advertised through short-form television infomercials. Ads for the skin gels ran in Cosmopolitan, Muscle and Fitness, and other magazines. PediaLean was advertised in tabloids and magazines such as The Enquirer and Redbook.

Under the FTC’s final order, the primary company, Basic Research, will pay $3 million on behalf of all six companies and three individuals charged in this case: Basic Research, LLC, A.G. Waterhouse, LLC, Klein Becker USA, LLC, NutraSport, LLC, Sovage Dermalogic Laboratories, LLC, BAN LLC, Dennis Gay, Daniel B. Mowrey (also doing business as American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory) and Mitchell K. Friedlander.

The FTC’s final order prohibits the marketers from making unsubstantiated claims that Dermalin-APg, Cutting Gel, Tummy Flattening Gel, Anorex, Leptoprin, PediaLean, or any substantially similar product causes weight loss or fat loss and misrepresenting the effects of a product through the use of product names or endorsements. When they make weight-loss or fat-loss claims for any products, they must rely on competent and reliable scientific evidence. The marketers must also have substantiation to support representations that any food, drug, or dietary supplement has an effect on any disease, on the structure or function of the human body, or other health or weight-loss benefits. They cannot misrepresent any test, study, or research, or the profession, expertise, training, education, experience, or qualifications of any endorser.