The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Utah-based company, five related corporations, and three individuals operating as a common enterprise with making numerous false and unsubstantiated claims for weight-loss and fat-loss gels and supplements. The complaint focuses on six of the respondents’ heavily promoted products: Dermalin, Cutting Gel, and Tummy Flattening Gel (topical fat-loss gels with the same active ingredient); Leptoprin and Anorex (identical weight-loss supplements for “significantly overweight” people which contained ECA [ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin], an additional patented ingredient and calcium); and PediaLean (a glucomannan weight-loss supplement for children). In an administrative complaint announced today, the FTC alleges that the respondents violated the FTC Act by making unsubstantiated fat and weight loss claims, false claims that clinical testing proves certain efficacy claims, and false claims that Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D, is a medical doctor.
“Dramatic, unsubstantiated weight and fat loss claims continue to tempt the overweight with new hope for a quick fix. It’s particularly disturbing, however, when marketers peddle such pills and potions for children without adequate substantiation,” according to Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Commission’s administrative complaint names: Basic Research, L.L.C.; A.G. Waterhouse, L.L.C.; Klein-Becker usa, L.L.C.; Nutrasport, L.L.C.; Sovage Dermalogic Laboratories, L.L.C.; BAN, L.L.C.; Dennis Gay; Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., also doing business as American Phytotheraphy Research Laboratory; and Mitchell K. Friedlander, all operating from the same Salt Lake City facility. The corporate respondents operate as a common enterprise to sell a broad line of dietary supplements and topical products.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the respondents market numerous dietary supplements and topical gels through a variety of media, including the Internet. In particular, Leptoprin has been heavily advertised through short-form infomercials; the topical gels have been promoted through newspapers and national magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, and Muscle and Fitness; and PediaLean has been advertised in magazines such as Redbook.
Dermalin, Cutting Gel, and Tummy Flattening Gel all contain the active ingredient aminophylline in a lecithin base. Dermalin and Tummy Flattening Gel are sold under the Klein-Becker usa and Sovage trade names, and are advertised primarily to women interested in thinning their figures. Cutting Gel, sold under the Nutrasport trade name, is primarily advertised to male bodybuilders who want to eliminate areas of fat that obscure their muscle definition.
The FTC’s complaint challenges as unsubstantiated claims that Dermalin, Cutting Gel, and Tummy Flattening Gel cause rapid and visibly obvious fat loss in areas of the body to which they are applied. The complaint challenges as false the claim that published, clinical testing proves that Cutting Gel and Tummy Flattening Gel cause rapid and visibly obvious fat loss in areas of the body to which they are applied.
The complaint further challenges as unsubstantiated claims that Leptoprin and Anorex cause weight loss of more than 20 pounds in significantly overweight users and that those products cause loss of substantial, excess fat in significantly overweight users. In addition, the complaint challenges as false claims that clinical testing proves that Leptoprin causes weight loss of more than 20 pounds, including as much as 50, 60, or 147 pounds, in significantly overweight users; and that clinical testing proves that Leptoprin causes loss of substantial, excess fat in significantly overweight users.
In addition, the complaint challenges claims that PediaLean causes substantial weight loss in overweight or obese children, and that clinical testing proves such claims. The complaint further challenges the respondents’ claim that respondent Mowrey is a medical doctor. The FTC alleges that he is not.
The notice order issued with the complaint prohibits the respondents from making unsubstantiated claims about the health or weight-loss benefits, performance, safety, or efficacy of any service, program, dietary supplement, food, drug, or device. The notice order also prohibits the respondents from making misrepresentations about tests or the profession, expertise, training, education, experience or qualifications of Mowrey or any other endorser.
The Commission vote to file the administrative complaint was 4-0, with Chairman Timothy J. Muris not participating.
NOTE: The Commission issues 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 issuance of a complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondents have actually violated the law. The complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be ruled upon after a formal hearing.
Copies of the complaint and notice 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. 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.
(FTC File No. 002-3300)