The Omicron variant has consumers saying “Omigosh,” but even before the current surge, advertisers have been using questionable COVID-related claims to promote their products. FTC staff sent 25 more Cease and Desist Demands to businesses, most of whom have made unsubstantiated prevention or treatment representations for tinctures, teas, and sundry services.
Blog Posts Tagged with Health Claims
With more than a century of consumer protection experience under our belt, we at the FTC know that hard times for American families can be boom times for scammers. Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis creating fertile ground for fraud – and scammers today have a new and powerful weapon: social media platforms. These platforms generally earn their revenue by targeting users with advertising. The more time we spend on platforms consuming content and revealing valuable personal information, the more that platforms profit by having information to target ads.
If businesses make coronavirus prevention or treatment claims for their products, it’s time to get up to speed on the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act.
According to the CDC, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes. To put a human face on that public health statistic, 1 in 10 people at your company, friends in your neighborhood, and members of your extended family struggle with a disease that could threaten their lives. The uninsured, those with high-deductible health plans, and lower-income consumers face another challenge that makes managing diabetes even more difficult: the high cost of insulin.
No one can top Waylon Jennings’ invitation to Luckenbach, Texas, where people can get “Back to the Basics of Love.” But we can offer the next best thing for business executives, advertising professionals, and attorneys: a virtual invitation to Dallas, Texas, on June 24, 2021, to get back to the basics of law.
People facing infertility have a lot to think about in exploring the options available to them. But one thing that shouldn’t be on that list are unapproved products that make questionable claims to “treat” infertility. That’s the warning the FTC and the FDA have sent to companies that have pitched products to consumers searching for answers to what can be a complex medical condition.
It’s not like the FTC to dive in to a major law enforcement initiative, make a splash, and then leave the pool. If industry members thought December’s Operation CBDeceit was the end of the agency’s interest in deceptive health-related representations for CBD products, they were mistaken.
FTC staff sent 30 warning letters to companies, raising concerns about their COVID-related advertising claims. In two notable ways, some of these letters differ from letters we’ve sent to other marketers pitching products advertised to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19.
Congress passed a law in December 2020 – the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act – that imposes monetary penalties on violators. The Department of Justice and the FTC just brought their first action under the statute, alleging that a Missouri chiropractor and his company violated both the new law and the FTC Act by deceptively marketing vitamin D and zinc products to treat or prevent COVID-19.
People who claim that hindsight is 20/20 probably weren’t talking about the post hoc evaluation of clinical testing. That’s an alleged flaw the FTC challenged in purported substantiation submitted by the marketers of Hepaxa and Hepaxa PD, fish oil products advertised as clinically proven to treat liver disease in adults and children. In addition to injunctive provisions, the proposed settlement includes a financial remedy of $416,914.
Flo Health pitched its Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker as a way for millions of women to “take full control of [their] health.” But according to the FTC, despite express privacy claims, the company took control of users’ sensitive fertility data and shared it with third parties – a broken promise that left consumers feeling “outraged,” “victimized,” and “violated.” Read on for details, including a notable feature in the proposed settlement.
“It’s the Wild West out there!” How often have you heard that statement made about health claims for products containing CBD? But here’s the thing: It’s not the Wild West. In fact, health-related representations for CBD products are subject to the same established requirements of scientific substantiation the FTC has applied for decades to any advertised health claim.
When patients leave the office after an appointment with their eyecare professional, they should have certain things in hand: their coat, their phone – and a copy of their eyeglass prescription.
The FTC continues to monitor the marketplace to protect consumers from allegedly unsubstantiated COVID-19 claims. What are we seeing? Whether they’re selling tablets, treatments, or trinkets, companies are still making questionable representations about their products or services. The following 20 businesses are the latest to receive warning letters from the FTC about unsupported prevention or treatment claims, bringing the total to more than 330.
Coronavirus claims for zappers, virus-busting cards, sage, oregano, and bay leaves are among the representations called into question in the latest round of warning letters sent by FTC staff. With the total closing in on 300, the letters make it clear that companies need to clean up their claims about preventing or curing COVID-19. Here are the products and promises that have raised the most recent concerns.
Consumers and small businesses want personal protective equipment now. So when companies advertise those items online with promises of in-stock merchandise and fast shipping, those claims may be the difference between a big sale and no sale.
Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical and related company Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical sell “plans of care” – regimens of health-related products – advertised to treat COVID-19 and other serious medical conditions. The FTC has gone to court in an effort to see the sun set on what it alleges are Golden Sunrise’s deceptive claims.
Your patient calls you panicked because she’s on her last pair of contact lenses. Perhaps due to COVID-19, she isn’t able to (or doesn’t want to) come into the office. You may determine, in your medical judgment, that it’s appropriate to renew or extend that prescription. How do the Contact Lens Consumer Act and the Contact Lens Rule apply to that interaction?
For consumers struggling with severe or chronic pain, ads for a product called Willow Curve appeared to offer light at the end of the tunnel. But the FTC alleges the marketers made false and unsubstantiated claims for the product, a device that applied low-level light and mild heat to the site of pain – and set people back between $599 and $799 in the process. The proposed settlement also sheds light on the FTC’s ongoing concern with deceptive native advertising.
We asked you to review and comment on the Contact Lens Rule and you responded. Thousands of you sent comments, and some included surveys, studies, and analyses.