Claimed Clinical Studies Backed Primal Defense, RM-10, Living Multi, and FYI
An operation that marketed dietary supplements sold at Whole Foods Market, GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, and on the Internet settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they made deceptive advertising claims about their supplements. The FTC charged that Garden of Life, Inc., a dietary supplement company based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and its founder and owner, Jordan S. Rubin, made unsubstantiated claims that their supplements treated or cured a variety of ailments, ranging from colds to cancer, and also made false claims of clinical proof. The settlement prohibits deceptive claims about the results of tests or studies and requires claims by the defendants to be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
The FTC’s complaint targeted claims about four dietary supplements: Primal Defense, RM-10, Living Multi, and FYI. According to the complaint, the defendants made unsubstantiated advertising claims that:
- Primal Defense treats intractable immune disorders, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, colds, flu, and Crohn’s disease, and reduces users’ blood cholesterol levels;
- RM-10 treats cancer, helps lower users’ blood cholesterol levels, prevents and treats cardiovascular disease, and treats immune system disorders;
- Living Multi reduces the risk factor for diabetes and prevents diabetes-related syndromes, reduces the risk of obesity, and reduces inflammation; and
- FYI (For Your Inflammation) treats and prevents inflammation, including inflammation caused by arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, sports injuries, asthma, allergies, fibromyalgia, lupus, scleroderma, and other inflammatory conditions.
The FTC also alleged that the defendants made false claims that clinical studies prove that:
- Primal Defense reduces users’ blood cholesterol levels by 25 percent or more; improves users’ energy levels, memory, and concentration; and mitigates the symptoms of most patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia stage II;
- RM-10 treats immune system disorders and cancer;
- Living Multi has a proven nutritional formula; and
- FYI treats rheumatoid arthritis and reduces the effects of inflammation.
Garden of Life and Jordan Rubin will pay $225,000 in consumer redress as part of the settlement. If it is found they misrepresented their financial status, they will be responsible for the full judgment of more than $47 million – the total gross sales of the four dietary supplements. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from making claims similar to the ones challenged in the FTC’s complaint, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating the claims. Furthermore, the settlement requires the defendants to have such evidence whenever they make any claim about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects of any food, drug, or dietary supplement, or any program that includes such a product. The defendants also are prohibited from misrepresenting the results of any test or study when marketing such products and programs.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint and stipulated final order was 5-0. The complaint and stipulated final order were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on March 8, 2006.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final order 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. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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