Dr. Robert M. Currier, who appeared in infomercials for a purported anti-snoring product called SNORenz, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that he made unsubstantiated efficacy claims about the product. SNORenz is a dietary supplement consisting of oils and vitamins that people who snore spray on the back of their throat. The FTC alleges that Dr. Currier made numerous false or unsubstantiated statements implying that he conducted a study that proved that SNORenz is an effective treatment for snoring, and that SNORenz reduces the symptoms of sleep apnea - a potentially life-threatening breathing disorder. The proposed consent agreement requires Dr. Currier to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any claims that SNORenz or any other food, drug, or dietary supplement reduces or eliminates snoring, or that the product eliminates, reduces, or mitigates the symptoms of sleep apnea. The proposed consent agreement also requires him to evaluate substantiation for efficacy claims whenever he appears as an expert endorser.
Dr. Currier is a doctor of osteopathic medicine with a specialty in eye surgery and disease of the eye. He appeared in the same infomercials that were the subject of two previously approved FTC consent orders involving Med Gen, Inc., (the manufacturer of SNORenz) and Tru-Vantage International, LLC (the producer of SNORenz infomercials).
Specifically, the FTC's complaint charges that Dr. Currier failed to have a reasonable basis for claims he made about the efficacy of SNORenz in significantly reducing or eliminating snoring, reducing or eliminating snoring for six to eight hours, and treating the symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition, the complaint alleges that Dr. Currier falsely represented that clinical research proved the efficacy of SNORenz. The complaint further alleges that he failed to disclose that the product is not intended to treat sleep apnea and that persons experiencing sleep apnea should seek medical attention. Finally, the complaint alleges that Dr. Currier made claims as an expert endorser about the efficacy of SNORenz without disclosing his material connection to Med Gen, and without exercising his purported expertise to determine the accuracy of these claims.
The proposed consent order to settle the charges prohibits Dr. Currier from making unsubstantiated claims that SNORenz or any other food, drug, or dietary supplement reduces or eliminates snoring or the symptoms of sleep apnea. The settlement also prohibits him from making any unsubstantiated representations about the benefits, performance, efficacy, or safety of any product, service, or program.
The proposed consent order also requires Dr. Currier to issue a sleep apnea warning in conjunction with any snoring-reduction claims he makes for a product that has not been shown to be effective at treating sleep apnea. In addition, it requires Dr. Currier to exercise his represented expertise by actually evaluating substantiation for efficacy claims whenever he acts as an expert endorser.
Further, the proposed consent order prohibits him from misrepresenting the results of any tests or research, and requires Dr. Currier, when making any endorsement, to disclose any material connection between himself and the manufacturer or seller of the product, service, or program being endorsed.
The proposed settlement allows Dr. Currier to make representations specifically permitted in the labeling for any product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Nutrition Labeling & Education Act of 1990.
Finally, the proposed consent order contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring compliance.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed administrative consent agreement with Dr. Currier for public comment was 5-0. An announcement regarding the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until November 21, 2002, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, the proposed consent agreement, and an analysis of the proposed consent order to aid public comment 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, 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.