The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that the marketers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements engaged in false and deceptive advertising in touting their products. We’re still working our way through the 53-page decision — stop by for more in the next few days — but here are some need-to-know nuggets.
The FTC staff challenged numerous health-related claims for POM products. The Administrative Law Judge had ruled that POM made misleading claims, but disagreed with portions of the remedy the staff had requested. On appeal, the Commission upheld the conclusion that POM ads were false and deceptive. The opinion goes a step beyond the ALJ, who concluded that 19 of the 43 challenged ads violated the law. The Commission ruled that 36 ads conveyed misleading claims, but didn't reach the question of whether four media interviews violated the law.
Another key conclusion: Although the Commission declined to impose the FDA requirement the staff had initially requested, in the future, POM will need at least two randomized, well-controlled human clinical trials to support any claim that a food, drug, or dietary supplement is “effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease,” including heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
The opinion rejected POM’s argument that the FTC’s action would violate their First Amendment rights or their Fifth Amendment right to due process. The Commission upheld the ALJ’s conclusion that POM Wonderful, LLC, Roll Global LLC, Stewart Resnick, Lynda Resnick, and Matthew Tupper were liable for the illegal acts.
Commissioner Olhausen and former Commissioner Rosch also issued concurring statements.