T.V. Marketer Atida Karr To Pay Civil Penalty To Settle Charges; Infomercials for Acne-Statin Are Deceptive

Infomercials For Acne-Statin Are Deceptive

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The marketer of an over-the-counter acne treatment, Acne-Statin, has agreed to pay a $200,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that ads touting the product as an effective treatment for severe or cystic acne were deceptive. The claims also violate a 1979 order prohibiting Dr. Atida H. Karr from making unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness or superiority of any acne preparation she markets, the agency alleges. Karr and her Beverly Hills, California-based companies sold Acne-Statin and currently sell the Acne-Statin Kit.

The 1979 order prohibits Karr and her firms from advertising the effectiveness or superiority of any acne preparation unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific or medical evidence. Karr paid $175,000 into a consumer refund account as part of the 1979 settlement of the initial case.

In October 1995, the FTC alleged that Karr was appearing in television infomercials making claims about the effectiveness and superiority of her product, such as “Most of the people who wrote to me had acne for many years and couldn’t find anything to clear their skin, that is, until they discovered Acne-Statin.” Product endorsers claim Acne-Statin was effective in treating their severe or cystic acne. At the time Karr and her company made the claims, they did not have competent and reliable scientific or medical evidence to support the claims, the FTC complaint alleges.

The Agency filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking civil penalties and a permanent injunction to bar future violations of the original order. The consent agreement announced today will end that litigation. Under the terms of the consent, Karr will be enjoined from using ads that use the words “severe” or “cystic” acne, and will pay a $200,000 civil penalty.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement was 4-1, with Commissioner Roscoe B. Starek, III dissenting. In his dissenting statement, Commissioner Starek said, “I have voted against acceptance of the consent decree because it does not provide adequate relief for the alleged law violations, contains provisions that may complicate enforcement, and fails adequately to secure the civil penalty payment...I recognize that continued litigation is not risk-free and could be lengthy. Nonetheless, the Commission’s case is very sound. A stronger order and a higher penalty would be more likely to deter future violations.”

The proposed consent agreement was filed today by the Department of Justice at the request of the FTC. It is subject to court approval.

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, consent, Commissioner Starek’s dissenting statement and the original order are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov

(FTC File No. X960 001)

(Civil Action No. 95-3784-RSWL {SHx})

Contact Information

Media Contact:

Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs

Staff Contact:
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Justin Dingfelder 202-326-3017
Elena Paoli 202-326-2974