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Posted October 12, 2005
Supplement Company to Pay $2 Million Penalty For Alleged Violations of FTC Order
“Misleading health claims prevent consumers from getting useful information and can delay treatment for serious medical conditions,” said Lydia B. Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies already under order for making deceptive health claims should know better than to try it again.”
In 1995, NBTY and its two wholly owned subsidiaries, Puritan’s Pride, Inc., and Vitamin World, Inc., settled FTC charges that they made deceptive claims for 26 products. The FTC alleged that, among other things, the company 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 terms of the order settling the matter, 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.
The Alleged Violations
If approved by the court, the consent decree will resolve allegations that NBTY violated the 1995 order through its subsidiaries. The FTC charges that from 2001 through 2003, Dynamic Essentials, Inc., an NBTY subsidiary, marketed a Tongan seaweed extract, “Royal Tongan Limu,” advertising in English and Spanish that it was clinically proven to cure, prevent, or treat a range of diseases and disorders such as allergies, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The FTC alleges that during this same period, NBTY, through its subsidiaries, also claimed that “Body Success PM Diet Program” reduces body fat, increases metabolism, and causes weight loss, even during sleep. According to the FTC, the company lacked reliable scientific evidence to prove that its claims for either product were true, and misrepresented that tests, studies, research, articles, scientific opinion, and data supported its claims for Royal Tongan Limu.
The Consent Decree
Under the terms of the consent decree, NBTY and its subsidiaries are barred from violating the 1995 order, and NBTY must pay $2 million in civil penalties. The consent order also contains terms requiring NBTY to distribute the order to certain company personnel, as well as to keep relevant records and provide them to the Commission to ensure compliance with the order’s terms.