TRO Blocks Deceptive Claims That Drug Card Would Provide Free Drugs
by Linda Lavache
A Washington district court issued a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against MyFreeMedicine.com and its owner, Geoffrey J. Hassler (collectively, “Defendants”) for deceptively claiming their drug card program, targeted at low income consumers, would provide free prescription medications. The FTC filed a complaint against MyFreeMedicine on September 20, and the injunction followed. FTC v. MyFreeMedicine.com, LLC, No. CV-05-1607 (W.D. Wash. Oct 17, 2005).
The FTC complaint alleges that Defendants' television and radio ads urged low income consumers without insurance to call a toll free number to see if obtain free medications if they are eligible. Defendants' sales representatives allegedly told calling consumers, without checking on their eligibility, that, if they joined Defendants' $199.95 program, they would receive free prescription medications. Defendants also allegedly asserted that they worked directly with pharmaceutical companies and the government, and promised a refund if the consumer could not obtain his or her medication for free through the program. The FTC complaint contends that rather than provide consumers with free prescription medications, “Defendants' program consists only of selling consumers [drug company patient assistance program] application forms.” The complaint also alleges that Defendants refused to provide refunds to consumers.
The District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a temporary restraining order against Defendants, finding that there was good cause to believe that Defendants engaged in, and would likely continue to engage in, acts and practices that violate Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The district court also ordered a freeze of the Defendants' assets and ordered Defendants to repatriate all Defendants' foreign assets.
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