QVC, Inc. and the Quigley Corporation have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the companies made unsubstantiated claims that Cold-Eezer or Cold-Eeze brand zinc lozenges can prevent colds and alleviate allergy symptoms. Quigley also settled charges that it made unsubstantiated claims in advertisements for Kids-Eeze Bubble-Gum regarding the product's ability to reduce the severity of cold symptoms in children.
QVC is a national cable "home shopping" network, and Quigley is the manufacturer of Cold-Eeze and Kids-Eeze. Many of the challenged claims for Cold-Eeze appeared on QVC programming, and were made both by QVC show hosts and by Quigley representatives appearing on QVC. The FTC alleged that both companies made unsubstantiated claims that Cold-Eeze can: prevent colds; relieve the symptoms of allergies and hay fever; reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia; and reduce the severity of cold symptoms in children. In addition, according to the FTC complaint against Quigley, the company made unsubstantiated Cold-Eeze claims in radio advertising and on the Internet, and made unsubstantiated claims on the Internet that Kids-Eeze can reduce the severity of cold symptoms in children.
"With the cold and flu season fast approaching, many consumers are looking for products to help them stay healthy or feel better," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "These settlements will ensure that consumers are no longer being misled by unsubstantiated claims about these products. And they also will help remind marketers of their responsibility to back up all advertising promises."
Last year, the FTC issued an Advertising Guide for Dietary Supplements. The Guide states that claims for dietary supplements must be presented truthfully and there must be adequate support for advertising claims. The Guide is available on the FTC's website.
Quigley is based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and QVC is based in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
In separate consent agreements announced today for public comment, Quigley and QVC agreed not to make the challenged claims for these products, or for any food, drug, or dietary supplement, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims. The proposed consent agreement with Quigley would also prohibit that company from making any claim that any food, drug or dietary supplement can or will cure, treat, or prevent disease, or will have any effect on the structure or function of the human body, unless it has competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claim. The proposed QVC settlement would prohibit it from making any claim that any dietary supplement can or will cure, treat, or prevent disease, or will have any effect on the structure or function of the human body, without having competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claim.
The proposed consent agreements would permit the respondents to make certain claims permitted by the Food and Drug Administration.
The agreements also contain various reporting and recordkeeping provisions that would assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreements for public comment with Quigley Corporation was 3-1 with Commissioner Sheila F. Anthony issuing a separate statement in which she expressed her view "that the consent in this matter does not adequately address Quigley Corporation's conduct with respect to its marketing of the Kids-Eeze product." The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreements for public comment with QVC was 4-0. An announcement regarding the proposed consent agreements will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: Consent agreements are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the news release, the complaints, the proposed consent agreements and analyses of the proposed consent order to aid public comment are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 982 3152)