They say hindsight is 20/20, but what about foresight? We’re not ones to prognosticate, but a look at notable FTC cases and initiatives from the past year suggests some topics likely to be top of mind in months to come. Here is a non-exhaustive list of issues in our 2019 rearview mirror and likely visible through the 2020 windshield.
Blog Posts Tagged with Health Claims
The sellers of Synovia claimed their dietary supplement “paves the pot holes” in joints damaged by arthritis. But an FTC lawsuit alleges the primary pot holes were in the company’s purported proof, which left consumers streamrollered by false and deceptive advertising claims.
In tribute to the baseball season that’s just ended, we’ll start this blog post about an alleged pyramid scheme and supposed miraculous dietary supplements with the words of the great Yogi Berra: “It's like déjà vu all over again.”
Aloe and cranberry: a useful plant and a nutritious fruit. But are they clinically proven alone or in combination to treat diabetes, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and a list of other serious medical conditions that afflict Boomer Consumers? According to the FTC, those are just some of the deceptive claims that Florida-based NatureCity, LLC, made for TrueAloe capsules and AloeCran powdered drink mix.
You’ve probably seen them on TV: announcements with prominent warnings about FDA actions involving certain prescription drugs or medical devices. But they aren’t official health and safety recalls or alerts from the Food and Drug Administration. They’re something else – and FTC staff has sent letters to some of the people involved.
Companies and consumers are talking in a different way these days about cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. But even as the conversation changes, one thing remains the same. Before making claims about purported health effects of CBD products, advertisers need sound science to support their statements.
“Viagra for the brain.” It’s a slogan designed to attract the attention of consumers concerned about cognition. Then there was a massive online ad campaign of “news” websites featuring supposed testimonials from people like Bill Gates and the now-late Dr. Stephen Hawking. It’s no wonder people forked over millions for supplements that went by names like Geniux, Xcel, EVO, and Ion-Z.
If you sell genetic testing kits to consumers, you’re probably familiar with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information under some circumstances. You’re also familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects health information collected by certain types of entities. Then there are laws enforced by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that pertain to genetic testing kits.
In explaining FTC cases, we try to give readers a behind-the-scenes perspective and sometimes the most accurate insights are out of the mouths of corporate insiders. In the FTC’s first case challenging fabricated reviews on an independent retail site, consider an email from the CEO of Brooklyn-based Cure Encapsulations about a weight loss pill it was selling.
Alzheimer’s disease poses what experts agree is a looming public health crisis. But it also exacts an incalculable personal toll on people living with the condition and the family and friends who love them. The FTC and the Food and Drug Administration just sent warning letters to three companies advertising that their products can treat diseases like Alzheimer’s. It’s a development that merits industry attention.
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
What do Hollywood classics Sunset Boulevard, Citizen Kane, Double Indemnity, and Fight Club have in common? They all begin with the end of the story.
Archeologists report that the first mention of diabetes was in a papyrus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Roll the scroll out a bit and it wouldn’t surprise us to find an ad (in hieroglyphics, of course) for a pill or potion promising a miracle treatment. Questionable diabetes products have been around for centuries and the latest one to attract law enforcement attention is a dietary supplement called Nobetes.
In the annals of film, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Casablanca are among our top picks. But don’t expect our list to include TBX-FREE, Eupepsia Thin, or Prolongz, dissolving strips of film the FTC says California-based Redwood Scientific deceptively advertised for smoking cessation, weight loss, and male sexual performance.
Old West nostrum sellers used to market treatments for a broad range of diseases with the slogan “Good for what ails ya.” California-based Regenerative Medical Group used a current buzzword in science – stem cell therapy – to peddle what they claimed were treatments for conditions as varied as cerebral palsy and autism to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and macular degeneration.
“A guy walks into a bar . . . .” It’s a typical set-up for a stand-up comedian, but we never thought it would be the opener about a proposed FTC settlement involving unproven treatment claims for serious diseases.
Mosquitoes don’t just bug us. A big concern is their penchant for passing along pernicious diseases, including the Zika virus. New Jersey-based Aromaflage claimed its sprays and candles were effective at repelling mosquitoes – including ones that spread serious illnesses – and repelled mosquitoes as effectively as 25% DEET. The FTC alleges those representations were false or misleading.
Why are you mumbling?
The TV is not too loud!
What did you say? This restaurant is like Grand Central Station.
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. According to warning letters from the FDA and FTC, certain sellers of e-liquids – flavorings for e-cigarettes – are using packaging that imitates foods or beverages popular with children. Little kids who ingest what’s inside boxes that appear to be apple juice, cookies, candy, etc., risk acute nicotine toxicity, poisoning that can result in seizure, coma, cardiac and respiratory arrest, and death.
Medical professionals, consumer advocates, industry members, and law enforcers are gathering in Washington right now in anticipation of today’s workshop, The Contact Lens Rule and the Evolving Contact Lens Marketplace. Panelists will scrutinize issues related to competition in the marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and other topics.