FTC: Products Worn or Rubbed on the Skin Do Not Cause Weight Loss
A company and its owner are banned from selling weight-loss patches in the future and will pay $180,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that advertising claims for their weight-loss patches were false and unsubstantiated.
According to the FTC, Transdermal Products International Marketing Corporation and William H. Newbauer sold a supposed weight-loss patch to about two dozen domestic and foreign retailers, and provided them with sample deceptive advertising and bogus substantiation materials, including purported expert endorsements and clinical studies of their weight-loss patch by Marvin Kaplan. The retailers in turn used these materials to sell the weight-loss patches to consumers in the U.S. and abroad. The sample advertising made false or unsubstantiated claims about the product, including that it caused weight loss and that the main ingredient, sea kelp, had been approved by the FDA for weight loss.
The order entered against the defendants requires that they pay $180,000 in three $60,000 payments over 18 months. If they fail to make their payments on time – or if they materially misled the Commission as to the extent of their ability to pay – the order calls for a judgment against them of $900,000.
In addition to banning them from selling weight-loss patches, the order also bars the defendants from making claims that have been identified by the FTC as raising “red flags” for false weight-loss advertising, including that a product worn or rubbed on the skin is effective for weight loss; that it causes substantial weight-loss without reducing calories or increasing exercise; that it safely enables users to lose more than three pounds per week for a period of more than four weeks; or that it causes permanent weight loss. In addition, the defendants cannot misrepresent that the FDA has approved or is about to approve any transdermal product, dietary supplement, food, drug, device or cosmetic for its intended use. Also, they cannot claim that any of these types of products cause weight loss or melt or burn body fat or affect the body’s metabolism of fat unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up the claim. Finally, the order prohibits the defendants from providing their trade customers with the means and instrumentalities to make false and deceptive claims.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the stipulated final order was 5-0. Senior District Court Judge Thomas N. O’Neill, Jr., signed the order, which was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on July 24, 2007.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation.
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