FTC Law Judge Upholds Some Charges Against Calcium Supplement, "Bone Builder"; Dismisses Others

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Ads that claimed an over-the-counter calcium supplement could "restore lost bone," eliminate pain and was superior to other forms of calcium in the prevention or treatment of bone ailments were deceptive and misleading, according to FTC Administrative Law Judge Lewis F. Parker. Judge Parker’s decision upholds FTC charges against Metagenics, Inc., doing business as Ethical Nutrients, and its president, Jeffrey Katke. The charges were made in an administrative complaint seeking an order to halt the deceptive claims used to market Metagenics’ calcium supplement, "Bone Builder."

Metagenics is based in San Clemente, California.

Advertisements for Bone Builder contain statements such as "Bone Builder can restore lost bone and has the clinical evidence to prove it," "Best absorbed calcium source . . .

Proved by scientific studies on humans," and ". . .decreased pain and increased bone thickness when taken in adequate amounts over long enough periods of time, a record no calcium supplement could achieve." Although Metagenics presented papers and testimony in an attempt to document its ad claims, Judge Parker concluded that Metagenics did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis to substantiate the claims.

The order issued by Judge Parker would bar representations that Bone Builder or any food, dietary supplement or drug that Metagenics markets:

  • restores lost bone;
  • restores bone strength;
  • reduces or eliminates pain associated with bone ailments;
  • is superior to and/or more effective than other forms of calcium in the prevention or treatment of bone ailments; and
  • is more bioavailable, more absorbable, or more effectively utilized by the body than other forms of calcium; unless, at the time of making the representation, they possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

In addition, the order would prohibit Metagenics, Ethical Nutrients, and Katke from misrepresenting the conclusions of any test or study.

However, Judge Parker dismissed Commission charges that Metagenics had not substantiated claims that Bone Builder builds or increases bone thickness, halts or prevents bone loss or bone thinning, and halts, prevents or treats osteoporosis. Judge Parker’s order permits Metagenics to make these claims.

Finally, the order contains provisions intended to allow the Commission to monitor compliance with the Judge’s order.

Judge Parker’s order is subject to review by the full Commission either on the Commission’s own motion or on appeal by the respondents. If not appealed within 30 days, it would become the Commission’s decision and order and would be effective 60 days after it is served on the respondents.

Copies of the initial decision and order, as well as other documents associated with this case, 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 Docket No. 9267)

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