ValueVision International, Inc., the third largest television "home shopping" network retailer in the United States, has agreed to pay a $215,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that it violated a previous Federal Trade Commission order by making unsubstantiated health claims for Physician's RX, a dietary supplement containing a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In addition to paying the civil penalty, ValueVision will be enjoined from violating the FTC order.
ValueVision, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, owns and operates a cable television home shopping service called ShopNBC that markets a variety of consumer products including jewelry, housewares and health and beauty products through live, 24-hour programming. It also operates a website.
In July 2001, the Commission issued an administrative complaint charging ValueVision with violating the FTC Act by allegedly making unsubstantiated health-related claims for a variety of weight loss, cellulite treatment and anti-hair loss products. ValueVision agreed to a proposed consent agreement settling the FTC charges. On August 24, 2001, the Commission issued the order, which requires ValueVision to have "competent and reliable scientific evidence" substantiating any claim that a food, drug, or dietary supplement "can or will cure, treat, or prevent any disease, or have any effect on the structure or function of the human body."
The complaint announced today alleges that ValueVision, through television advertising featuring testimonials for Physician's RX, made claims that the product reduces fatigue associated with taking prescription drugs, such as drugs for heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes; reduces fatigue associated with certain illnesses, including diabetes, lyme disease, sarcoidosis, and cancer; increases energy, stamina, and endurance within a week to 10 days; and relieves arthritis symptoms. The complaint also alleges that ValueVision did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate these claims, thereby violating the 2001 order.
Violations of FTC orders carry a penalty not to exceed $11,000 per violation.
The Commission vote to refer the complaint and proposed consent decree to the Department of Justice for filing was 5-0. The complaint and proposed consent decree were filed in court on April 17, 2003 by the Department of Justice at the request of the FTC, and the consent decree was entered by the judge.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and the consent decree 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. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC Docket No. C-4022)
(Civil Action No. 03-2890)