The FTC has announced a settlement with the marketers of three supplements who, the FTC alleged, deceptively promoted their products to older Americans using false claims that their products could stop pain and treat other age-related ailments.  

The complaint details the companies’ marketing efforts for Neurocet, a pill that purportedly relieves bone and joint pain and reduces inflammation, and Regenify and Resetigen-D, pills that purportedly repair and regenerate the body’s cells and treat a number of serious health conditions.  In slick mailers targeted to older consumers, the marketers made a variety of aggressive health claims, all of them, according to the FTC, unsubstantiated:  the complaint alleges that the defendants had not conducted any clinical trials to substantiate their claims and that there were no competent and reliable human clinical trials of equivalent products, notwithstanding their claims to the contrary.  As the complaint states, “existing studies of individual ingredients contained in the above products are not competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting the advertised health claims because such studies: do not take into account potential interactions among ingredients; test different dosages of the ingredients; are unrelated to the health claims advertised; or have critical flaws in methodology, such as improper controls or randomization.”  

The complaint further alleges that the marketers fabricated testimonials from doctors and consumers.

The proposed order bars the defendants, companies here and in Canada, from making any claims about the health benefits of their products unless true and supported by scientific evidence.  And it imposes a judgment of more than $38.1 million. The Commission may use the funds it receives (which will be a much lesser amount) to pay refunds to consumers harmed by the defendants’ false claims.

As this and other recent announcements from the FTC show, health claims – of all kinds – remain at the forefront of the FTC’s enforcement priorities, as is marketing that targets the enormous, and aging, boomer generation.