FTC Says Forget About Miracle Diet, Over-The-Counter Skin Cream
WASHINGTON (AP) _ If someone told you a 14-day diet would alter your metabolism so extra calories would not lead to extra weight, would you believe it?
How about an over-the-counter skin cream that’s as good as the prescription wrinkle remover Retin-A?
The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that neither product is what it purports to be and the makers of each have agreed to stop making false claims and pay fines to the federal treasury.
However, a third firm, Synchronal Corp. one of the nation’s largest producers of program-length television commercials known as infomercials, says it will fight FTC charges that broadcasts advertising cellulite and baldness remedies are deceptive.
The FTC said that Nu-Day Enterprises Inc., of Gig Harbor, Wash. and its owner, Jeffrey Bland, have agreed to stop unsubstantiated claims about the Nu- Day Diet Program and pay a $30,000 fine. The company, which advertises on a 30-minute infomercial, also will disclose every 15 minutes that the program is an advertisement.
The firm said that it stands by the effectiveness of its diet program, but could not afford to fight a legal battle with the FTC.
″To avoid continued legal expenses and time-wasting debate with the FTC, Nu-Day has agreed not to use the terms ‘altering metabolism’ or ‘influencing mitochondrial activity’ in any of its subsequent Nu-Day communications,″ said a statement from the company.
Nu-Day Diet costs $59.95 and consists of two meal substitute products - a protein and nutrient powder called Nu-Day Meal Replacement Formula, and a dietary fiber supplement called Nu-Day Herbulk. It also includes a suggested exercise regimen, menus for low-calorie meals and an audio cassette of Bland explaining the 14-day program.
The FTC says the company’s commercial, which simulates a newscast, falsely says 100,000 clinical trials of the product have been conducted.
It also falsely says the diet alters human metabolism so that weight lost while following the program won’t be regained when users increase their caloric intake.
In the second case, the FTC said St. Ives Laboratories Inc., deceptively labeled and advertised Retinyl A skin cream as containing or having the same effect as Retin-A, a prescription anti-acne medication that reduces wrinkles.
The agency says the company, based in Chatsworth, Calif., has agreed to stop the deceptive marketing and pay a $100,000 fine.
St. Ives has agreed not to represent its skin cream or any other non- prescription skin cream as being or containing the same wrinkle removing effect as the prescription drug.
″While we disagreed with the commission’s position, this represents an amicable settlement of an old matter and involves no change in our existing business,″ said Gary Worth, St. Ives chairman. He said the company discontinued use of the questionable language three years ago and would not resume it.
In the third action, the FTC is trying to stop future broadcasts of an infomercial for the Anushka Bio-Response Body Contouring Program, a cellulite treatment, and the Omexin System for Hair, a baldness cure.
The case will be heard by an administrative law judge.
Arthur Toll, chairman of Regal Communications, Synchronal’s parent company, said the two shows were carefully reviewed. He said that the firm does not believe there is legitimate basis for the FTC charges.
″Our company has been in the forefront in development of standards for this emerging industry,″ said Richard Kaylor, Synchronal president. ″We consistently and carefully examine, research and document each and every claim made on the infomercials we run.″
The FTC’s complaint is that the broadcast ″Cellulite Free: Straight Talk with Erin Gray″ makes unsubstantiated claims that Anushka products will cause weight loss and a substantial reduction in hips and thighs.
The federal agency says another broadcast, ″Can You Bet Baldness?″ falsely claims that Omexin hair treatment contains an ingredient that was scientifically proven to curtail hair loss and promote hair growth for a large majority of balding men and women.
The FTC says that once customers ordered the products, Synchronal in many cases automatically shipped them bimonthly supplies without their consent and billed their credit cards for the purchases.