The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit in federal district court charging Rexall Sundown, Inc. with making false and unsubstantiated claims while marketing its dietary supplement, Cellasene™, as a purported cellulite treatment. In its advertisements, Rexall Sundown made statements such as, "Unlike massages and creams, Cellasene works from within, nutritionally, to help eliminate cellulite at its source." The FTC alleges that through statements such as Cellasene "fights cellulite from the inside," "helps eliminate cellulite" and "The One That Works," Rexall made unsubstantiated claims that Cellasene eliminates or substantially reduces cellulite. The company also falsely represented that it had clinical evidence establishing Cellasene's efficacy, the FTC alleges. The Commission is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit Rexall Sundown from making false and unsubstantiated claims in the future and ordering the company to pay monetary redress.
Cellulite is a condition that affects many adult women. Cellasene, which is a softgel tablet that contains the herbal ingredients ginkgo biloba, bladderwrack extract, sweet clover extract and grape seed extract, is different from most other cellulite treatments marketed in the past because it is ingested rather than applied topically.
"Consumers depend on product advertising for accurate information," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "In this case, they were led to believe that a dietary supplement would reduce or eliminate cellulite, and they shelled out serious money in good faith for a product that claimed to do just that. Breaking a compact with consumers through false and misleading advertising is no way to do business."
Rexall Sundown, based in Boca Raton, Florida, manufacturers and markets a variety of nutritional supplements and consumer health products. In May, Rexall announced that it was being acquired by the Dutch conglomerate Royal Numico NV for $1.8 billion. According to the FTC's complaint, Rexall advertised and sold Cellasene to consumers throughout the United States. Rexall advertised Cellasene in major newspapers including The Washington Post and USA Today. The company also advertised Cellasene in magazines, on the Internet, on television and radio, and through free standing inserts.
Rexall recommends that consumers take three Cellasene tablets a day for eight weeks, and then a maintenance dose of one tablet a day for the next eight weeks. The initial eight week regimen costs consumers about $180 - $240. According to press reports, total sales for Cellasene in 1999 were about $54 million.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, in Fort Lauderdale, on July 19, 2000.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
Office of Public Affairs
Darren A. Bowie
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FTC File No. 992-3174)
(Civil Action No. 00-706-CIV-Ferguson)