FTC Acknowledges Crusade Against Health-Related Deceptive Advertising

November 18, 2015

The FTC initiated a “dietary sweep” to combat health-related deceptive advertising in the weight loss, hair growth, opiate addiction relief, and cognitive supplement industries.

The FTC Made A Chart of 14 Health-Related Deceptive Claims

As part of its crusade, the Commission released a chart detailing fourteen health-related deceptive advertising lawsuits. Featured products included the Green Coffee Bean, W8-B-Gone, CITRI-SLIM 4, Elimidrol, and Procera AVH. And although the initiative targeted a variety of goods— ranging from hair growth gels to memory enhancement pills — the primary focus seems to be dietary weight-loss supplements.

FTC Warning Letter: Don’t Use Health-Related Deceptive Claims

Just yesterday, the FTC sent out a warning letter to twenty companies in the weight-loss supplement space. It emphasized the importance of using realistic product descriptions and citing scientific studies used in efficacy claims. Specifically, such studies must be randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and conducted by qualified researchers. (See, e.g., FTC v. Nat’l Urological Group, Inc., 645 F. Supp. 2d 1167, 1190, 1202 (N.D. Ga. 2008), aff’d, 356 Fed. Appx. 358 (11th Cir. 2009); FTC v. SlimAmerica, Inc., 77 F. Supp. 2d 1263, 1274 (S.D. Fla. 1999); Schering Corp., 118 F.T.C. 1030, 1080, 1115-16 (1991).) The letter further cautioned that testimonials are insufficient evidence to support weight-loss claims and instructs marketers on how to properly implement non-deceptive reviews.

National Prevention Council & FTC Partnership

The FTC’s heightened interest in health-related products may stem from the Commission’s partnership with the National Prevention Council. A federal task force, the NPC provides coordination and leadership regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices.

Affiliate Marketers: Invest In A Marketing and Advertising Audit

This latest FTC health marketing crackdown should serve as a wake up call to affiliate marketers. If you’ve received one of the above-mentioned warning letters or are worried that your marketing compliance measures may be out-of-date, now is the time to invest in a marketing and advertising legal audit.

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