As part of its ongoing efforts to stop bogus disease treatment claims, the Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against an online marketer that allegedly deceived consumers with baseless claims that its supplements would treat and prevent diabetes.
The FTC will ask a federal judge to permanently bar the company, Wellness Support Network Inc., and its two principals, from making these and other deceptive claims in violation of federal law, and to require the defendants to provide refunds to consumers or give up their ill-gotten gains.
The FTC complaint challenges claims for two sets of dietary supplements that the company markets to diabetics. The Diabetic Pack contains three different products that purportedly contain an array of vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts, and is touted as a treatment for diabetes. The Insulin Resistance Pack is comprised of the same three products as those in the Diabetic Pack, and the defendants claim it reduces insulin resistance and helps to prevent diabetes. Both the Diabetic Pack and Insulin Resistance Pack sell online for $76.70 for a 30-day supply.
Advertising primarily online, the defendants market the products on their website, www.realfoodnutrients.com. The ads describe both products as “Completely Natural!” and refer to each respectively as a “Diabetes Breakthrough” and an “Insulin Resistance Breakthrough.” To give the appearance of scientific legitimacy, the ads claim that the products are validated by “Nobel Prize-winning technology.”
The defendants’ advertising also relies heavily on consumer testimonials, such as this one:
“I was taking 50 units of insulin plus pills twice a day and my blood sugar just kept going up. I was tired all of the time and could fall asleep as soon as I sat down. I also kept gaining weight. Since I’ve been using the Diabetic Pack I have lost 9 pounds, I have all kinds of energy and my sugar is down in the low 100s. Also I don’t take insulin anymore!”
The FTC complaint alleges that these claims made by the marketers are false or unsupported by scientific evidence:
- Diabetic Pack is an effective treatment for diabetes, is proven as an effective treatment for diabetes, reduces or eliminates the need for insulin and other diabetic medications, and is proven to cause an average drop in blood glucose levels of 31.9 percent.
- Insulin Resistance Pack reverses and manages insulin resistance, is proven to be an effective treatment for insulin resistance, prevents diabetes, and is proven to cause an average drop in blood glucose levels of 31.9 percent.
The complaint against Wellness Support Network also names two principals, Robert Held and Robyn Held.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The FTC filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 28, 2010.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. 0723179)
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