FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
AMERICAN COLLEGE FOR ADVANCEMENT IN MEDICINE; REOPENING THE PUBLIC RECORD TO EXTEND THE PERIOD FOR FILING PUBLIC COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED CONSENT AGREEMENT
AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.
ACTION: Reopening the public record for filing comments
SUMMARY: On December 16, 1998, the Federal Trade Commission ("the Commission") published a notice of a proposed consent agreement with the American College for Advancement in Medicine. The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The comment period expired on February 16, 1999. In light of significant interest by the public, the Commission has reopened the public record in this matter and extended the comment period through March 31, 1999.
DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 31, 1999.
ADDRESSES: Comments should be directed to: FTC/Office of the Secretary, Room 159, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Richard Cleland, FTC/ S-4110, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. (202) 326-3088.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 16, 1999, the Commission published its proposed consent agreement with the American College for Advancement in Medicine ("ACAM") and invited the public to submit comments on the agreement during a sixty day comment period that ended on February 16, 1999. The agreement addressed alleged violations of Sections 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act in connection with ACAM-produced advertising and promotional materials that promoted the use of EDTA chelation therapy for the treatment of atherosclerosis. The Commission alleged in its accompanying complaint that some of the claims contained in ACAM's materials were false and misleading. The Commission received approximately seven hundred and fifty comments during the public comment period. In light of the significant public interest demonstrated by the large volume of comments received, the Commission is reopening the public record for reception of comments to be filed on or before March 31, 1999.
By direction of the Commission, Commissioner Anthony dissenting.
Donald S. Clark
Dissenting Statement Of Commissioner Sheila F. Anthony
This matter involves public health and safety, and the advertising at issue potentially poses grave risk to individuals who may rely on it. Therefore, I cannot agree to reopen and extend the public comment period through the end of March, 1999, on the matter American College for the Advancement of Medicine, File No. 962-3147. The sixty-day public comment period closed on February 16, 1999, after proper notice in the Federal Register, published by the Commission on December 16, 1998, and the Commission received over 600 comments within the prescribed period.
The consent agreement between the Commission and American College for the Advancement of Medicine ("ACAM"), a California corporation, settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices. ACAM has the burden of substantiating its advertising claims that chelation therapy is proven effective in treating diseases of the human circulatory system, such as atherosclerosis, and it has not done so. Under the terms of the consent agreement, ACAM is prohibited from advertising that chelation therapy is an effective treatment for atherosclerosis without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the representation. Should ACAM possess such evidence, it would be allowed to make the challenged claims.
The risk posed to individuals who rely on advertised medical misrepresentations may be literally a matter of life or death, particularly if the advertisements cause those individuals who need urgent medical care to forego proven treatments. Although I value public comment, I do not believe we should delay further the timely issuance of the Commission's final order accepting the consent agreement, especially on this public health and safety matter.(1)
For these reasons, I must vote against reopening and extending the public comment period.
Separate Statement of Commissioner Orson Swindle
I want to emphasize one of my reasons for voting to extend the public comment period in this matter until March 31, 1999. Commissioner Anthony describes this extension as implicating health and safety issues that may be a matter of "life or death," but I do not share her dire assessment of the prospect for consumer injury. The respondent has not disseminated materials with the allegedly deceptive claims for several months, including during the sixty-day public comment period that ended on February 16, 1999. The respondent also has revised its materials to eliminate the allegedly deceptive claims. Given that the respondent did not disseminate the allegedly deceptive claims during the sixty-day public comment period and has revised its materials, the respondent is unlikely to make its allegedly deceptive claims during the extended public comment period. In light of this, the suggested "life or death" consequences seem unlikely results of an extension.
1. I recognize that the Commission, in the past, has extended comment periods. I am unaware of such an extension being granted in a matter involving public health or safety.