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Posted August 31, 2009
Court Orders Marketers of Supreme Greens and Coral Calcium to Pay Nearly $70 Million for Consumer Refunds
In July 2008, the court found that infomercial pitchman Donald W. Barrett and his affiliates deceptively touted the supplement Supreme Greens to treat, cure, or prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Barrett also deceptively claimed that the product could cause dramatic weight loss and could safely be taken by children, pregnant women, and people on medication. In addition, Barrett marketed a second dietary supplement, Coral Calcium, which the court found he and the other defendants deceptively claimed could treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases; could be absorbed in greater quantity and more quickly than other calcium products; and could be completely absorbed by the body. Barrett also wrongfully claimed that scientific research had proven calcium supplements could prevent, reverse, or cure cancer in humans.
The Federal Trade Commission charged Barrett, his associate Robert Maihos, and two companies they control – Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc. and ITV Direct, Inc. – with making these unlawful claims regarding Supreme Greens and Coral Calcium, and with making unauthorized credit and debit charges. The FTC also charged three other defendants – Allen Stern and two companies he controls – with deceptively marketing Coral Calcium.
The court froze the assets of Barrett, Maihos, Direct Marketing Concepts, and ITV Direct and ordered them to pay $48.2 million for consumer refunds. The court also barred them from making deceptive claims about Supreme Greens and Coral Calcium; misrepresenting that scientific research validated their claims; making any health, performance, or efficacy claims about any food, drug, dietary supplement, cosmetic, or device unless such claims are true, non-misleading and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence; failing to disclose that promotional programming is, in fact, a paid advertisement; and billing consumers or charging their credit or debit cards on an ongoing basis without their consent.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ordered Stern, King Media, Inc., and Triad ML Marketing, Inc. to pay $20.4 million for consumer refunds. The court barred them from making deceptive claims about Coral Calcium; misrepresenting that scientific research validated their claims; and making any health, performance, or efficacy claims about any food, drug, dietary supplement, cosmetic, or device unless they are true, non-misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.