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FTC Reaches Settlement With Major Weight-Control Pill Marketers

Jan.05.2007

The FTC announced yesterday that it has reached a $25 Million settlement agreement with the marketers of weight-control pills Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim and CortiStress, TrimSpa, and One-A-Day WeightSmart. The settlements were the result of complaints the agency filed against each party, alleging deceptive marketing in connection with unsubstantiated advertised claims regarding the efficacy of the products.

Advertisements for the pills claimed various benefits from their use, including rapid and substantial weight loss, increased metabolism, and a reduced risk of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. The advertisements ran in print and on television, and some of the products were also marketed on the Internet, on radio, and at live events. The FTC's complaints asserted that these ads were misleading, falsely represented the effects of the weight-control pills, and were not supported by adequate scientific evidence. In one case, the FTC found that the advertisements deceptively represented that persons lost weight solely from taking weight-control pills and failed to disclose that these consumer endorsers were paid for their testimonials. In addition results of a study commissioned by the advertiser flatly contradicted claims of “clinically proven” substantial weight loss. In another case, the FTC found that infomercials were deceptively formatted to appear as talk shows rather than advertisements.

Each marketer agreed to pay specified sums to the FTC: Xenadrine EFX agreed to pay between $8 million and $12.8 million; CortiSlim consented to surrender $12 million, including proceeds from the sale of a residence purchased with CortiSlim profits; TrimSpa agreed to a $1.5 million settlement; and the Bayer Corporation, which marketed for One-A-Day WeightSmart, will pay $3.2 million. The agreements additionally prohibit the marketers from making any additional claims regarding the benefits or effects of these or other products unless substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The FTC's action should be seen in the broader context of the FTC's consumer protection mission, and is a reminder that claims made about the performance of products must be substantiated in advance by competent evidence.

Click here a copy of the FTC's January 4, 2007 press release.

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