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FTC sues makers of diet pills for false claims; ignores Big Pharma's false claims

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: diet pills, the FTC, health claims

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(NewsTarget) The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced last week that it had settled with four weight loss pill companies for more than $25 million over complaints the companies had made false, unsubstantiated health claims for their products.

Marketers of four products -- Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa and One-A-Day WeightSmart -- settled with the FTC over allegations of false weight loss claims, surrendering millions in money and assets, and consenting to limit future claims.

"You won't find weight loss in a bottle of pills that claims it has the latest scientific breakthrough or miracle ingredient," said Deborah Platt Majoras, chairman of the FTC. "Paying for fad science is a good way to lose cash, not pounds."

Two marketers of Xenadrine EFX are set to pay the FTC from $8 million to $12.8 million to settle complaints of unsubstantiated claims on its product, which was featured in numerous ads in People magazine, TV Guide, Cosmopolitan and Men's Fitness magazine.

Seven marketers of CortiSlim and CortiStress weight loss products are set to turn over assets totaling roughly $12 million, to settle allegations of false weight loss claims advertised in radio, print, internet and television media.

Marketers of TrimSpa -- the weight loss product that features Anna Nicole Smith as its spokesperson -- will pay $1.5 million to the FTC over supposedly false claims that the product would help consumers lose as much weight as they wanted without much effort.

One-A-Day WeightSmart maker Bayer Corporation settled with the FTC for $3.2 million for claiming its product, which contains the greet tea extract EGCG, helps consumers manage weight and boost metabolism.

However, critics of the FTC's ruling say the commission is unfairly targeting makers of natural products, while ignoring false and unsubstantiated claims made by pharmaceutical companies in prime-time advertisements.

"When it comes to consumer health, there's a double standard at the FTC," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of "Spam Filters for Your Brain." "Pills and supplements are strongly scrutinized for false claims, while the false advertising and exaggerated health claims of prescription drugs are routinely ignored.

"The FTC, much like the FDA, seems bent on destroying the nutritional supplements industry while ignoring the real threat to the health and safety of Americans: dangerous prescription medications.

"Careful analysis has shown that 94 percent of drug company promotional claims have absolutely no basis in scientific fact, and drug company television ads do not even require FDA review before being aired. Where is the FTC when it comes to false advertising by Big Pharma?" Adams asked.


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