Federal Trade Commission Sues Supplement Marketer

HCG_Platinum_False_Claims_Weight_LossThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just brought a lawsuit in Arizona federal court against a marketer of dietary supplements over alleged false weight loss claims.

Product marketing touts that HCG Platinum products will enable consumers to loss a lot of weight in a short amount of time, according to Law360. The defendants promised consumers the HCG Platinum products would help cause “rapid and substantial” weight loss” and that consumers would likely lose the weight that endorsers promised.

The FTC alleges the claims are false and lack appropriate substantiation. The FTC’s complaint for permanent injunction and other equitable relief concerns the way in which the diet products, manufactured by HCG Platinum LLC and Right Way Nutrition LLC, were advertised and marketed. Kevin Wright another defendant, manages the companies, according to Law360.

All of the products involved contain Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone found in the human placenta that, says the FTC, “for decades has been falsely promoted by various marketers for weight loss,” according to Law360. The FTC indicated that Wright, along with six HCG marketers, received warning letters that were issued by both the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that advised that their HCG products are mislabeled under the FDA Act. The letter also warned the seven marketers that it is against the law, under the FTC Act to issue weight loss claims with no competent, reliable scientific evidence.

The complaint also named seven relief defendants who received money from sales of the HCG product, although these defendants did not have an active role in the alleged efforts to deceive consumers, according to the FTC: Weekes Holdings, LLC; Primary Colors, LLC; KMATT Holdings, LLC; Nutrisport Holdings, LLC; Ty D. Mattingly; Julie Mattingly; and Annette Wright.

Wright and his companies, HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition LLC, marketed the HCG Platinum liquid drops through their own websites as well as through stores that included GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. The defendants also made claims on Facebook, in product packaging, in Internet pop-up advertisements, and in magazines, with instructions to consumers to place the HCG Platinum products under their tongues prior to eating and to consume a very low calorie diet—500-800 calories daily, according to the FTC. The charge for the products is between $60 and $149 for a 30-day supply of one of the three HCG Platinum formulations.

The advertising also indicates that the one-to-two pound daily weight loss can be maintained for multiple weeks for up to a total loss of 127 pounds, Law360 reported.

The FTC wrote that the defendants market two of the three formulations as “homeopathic.” This means that the listed ingredients are diluted to an undetectable level. Claims on product packaging and other advertising include statements that the products will lead to a one-pound-a-day weight loss; are safe; and are clinically proven to “burn fat, reduce weight, and lower cholesterol.” The third product was advertised as a dietary supplement formulation, according to the complaint, Law360 wrote.

To date, more than $13 million worth of HCG Platinum products have been sold since 2010. The FTC is seeking return of the profits tied to deceptive HCG Platinum product marketing and also advises consumers to be skeptical of advertisements touting HCG as a weight loss treatment.

In a 2011 press release, the FDA and FTC described their joint action as the “first step in keeping the unproven and potentially unsafe products from being marketed online and in retail outlets as oral drops, pellets, and sprays,” Law360 reported.

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