Consumer Health Digest #05-41

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 11, 2005


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.


NBTY hit for $2 million penalty. NBTY, Inc. has agreed to pay a $2 million civil penalty to settle charges that it violated the terms of a 1995 FTC consent order by making false and misleading health claims about two of its products. The FTC charged that the defendant made unsubstantiated promises that its products would cause consumers to lose weight or cure a variety of health problems. [NBTY, Inc. to pay $2 million penalty for alleged violations of FTC order. FTC news release, Oct 12, 2005] In 1995, NBTY and its two wholly owned subsidiaries, Puritan’s Pride, Inc., and Vitamin World, Inc., settled FTC charges that they had made deceptive claims for 26 products. The FTC charged that the company had claimed falsely or without substantiation that its products promoted weight loss, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, promoted hair growth, prevented premature hair loss, lowered cholesterol, and prevented arthritis. Under the settlement order, NBTY agreed not to make unsubstantiated claims about any dietary supplement and not to misrepresent the results or conclusions of any test, study, research article, or any other scientific opinion or data. NBTY further agreed to pay $250,000 in consumer redress. [Nature's Bounty to pay $250,000 as part of settlement with FTC over nutrient supplement claims. FTC news release, April 27, 1995] One product in the current case was a Tongan seaweed extract (“Royal Tongan Limu”) that was claimed to be clinically proven effective against allergies, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions. The other product, “Body Success PM Diet Program,” was claimed to reduce body fat, increase metabolism, and causes weight loss, even during sleep. NBTY was founded under the name Nature's Bounty, Inc., in 1979 and adopted its current name in 1995. It gross sales from October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004 were $1.65 billion.


"Supreme Greens with MSM" marketers settle FTC charges. Three individuals and two companies have settled Federal Trade Commission charges over their roles in the deceptive marketing of Supreme Greens with MSM, an herbal supplement that was marketed primarily through infomercials. In June 2004, the FTC had filed a lawsuit charging them with making unsubstantiated claims that the product was effective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes and could cause substantial weight loss. The suit also alleged alleged that Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc., ITV Direct, Inc., and Donald W. Barrett (ITV's president) and several others had deceptively marketed Coral Calcium Daily. In two separate settlement agreements, Supreme Greens developer Alejandro Guerrero and his company, Health Solutions, Inc. (both of Upland, California), and Michael Howell (Fontana, California), Gregory Geremesz (Upland, California) and their company, Healthy Solutions, LLC (Upland, California), agreed not to make false or unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, or safety of any food, drug, or dietary supplement. Guerrero also agreed to pay the FTC $65,000 or to transfer title to his 2004 Cadillac Escalade. Howell and Geremesz agreed to pay $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. The settlement also bans the defendants from misrepresenting Guerrero as a medical doctor, Doctor of Oriental Medicine or Ph.D. [Developer and marketers of “Supreme Greens with MSM” settle FTC charges. FTC news release, Oct 6, 2005] The original Supreme Greens infomercial, which began running on cable television in 2003, was set up as an "interview" of Guerrero by Donald Barrett. The litigation continues against him and the other Coral Calcium Daily marketers. Barrett and ITV Direct also produce and disseminate misleading infomercials by Lorraine Day, M.D., who claims to have cured herself of terminal cancer by diet and prayer and who advises against standard medical treatment. [Barrett S. Stay away from Lorraine Day, Quackwatch, April 22, 2005]


HGH spammers ordered to stop. A U.S. district court judge has ordered a permanent halt to an operation that used massive amounts of illegal spam to make bogus claims for human growth hormone (HGH) products that actually contained no human growth hormone and diet patches that did not provide the miraculous results they claimed. The judge ordered Michael John Anthony Van Essen, and Lance Thomas Atkinson to pay a total of $2.2 million, which represents their total income from the scheme. The case was brought with help from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the New Zealand Commerce Commission. [Court orders permanent halt to illegal spamming, bogus claims. FTC news release, Sept 20, 2005]


ADA updates fluoridation booklet. The American Dental Association has expanded and updated its "Fluoridation Facts" booklet, which can be read online free of charge or purchased in printed form for $11.95 by ADA members and $17.95 by nonmembers.


Judge dismisses Barrett libel suit. A Lehigh County Judge has dismissed the libel suit brought by Dr. Stephen Barrett against chiropractor Tedd Koren. The judge concluded that Barrett had failed to prove that Koren had published the alleged defamatory statements with "reckless disregard for the truth." Barrett plans to appeal the judge's verdict. The details of the case are published on Chirobase.


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This page was posted on October 11, 2005.