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Posted April 10, 2021

Companies Deceived Consumers About Fish Oil for Liver Disease, Says FTC

On April 1, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that fish oil supplement manufacturer BASF SE and its U.S. distributor, DIEM Labs, will pay a total of over $416,000 to settle FTC charges that the companies deceptively marketed two dietary fish oil supplements with claims that they treated liver disease.

According the FTC's complaint, DIEM Labs promoted Hepaxa and Hepaxa PD fish oil supplements with statements such as "CUT THE LIVER FAT... Most pediatric NAFLD patients will experience benefits after six months of daily supplementation with Hepaxa" and "BASF clinical trial reveals significant reduction in liver fat content in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease." However, the clinical trial sponsored by BASF showed no difference between Hepaxa and a placebo at lowering liver fat in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The researchers noted an "association" between increased levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in red blood cells and overall reduction of fat in the liver, but this association was not analyzed for statistical significance.

(See ConsumerLab's Fish Oil, Krill Oil, and Algal Oil Omega-3 (DHA & EPA) Supplements Review for more details about the study, as well as tests of related products.)

"Companies can't cherry-pick data and need to be upfront about the science behind — or not behind — their products," acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection stated in the agency's news release about the settlement, noting that BASF and DIEM Labs "couldn't back up serious claims about how Hepaxa capsules would help adults and kids with liver disease." 

As part of the settlement, both companies are prohibited from claiming that Hepaxa products cut liver fat in adults or children with NAFLD unless otherwise demonstrated in a clinical trial and from mispresenting the results of scientific tests. The $416,000 will be used to provide full refunds to consumers who bought either Hepaxa product.

For more information, use the link below.

Companies Settle FTC Charges that They Deceptively Marketed Fish Oil Supplements with False Claims They Were Clinically Proven to Treat Liver Disease

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