Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Robert Barefoot, Deonna Enterprises, Inc., and Karbo Enterprises, Inc. are prohibited from making claims that the dietary supplement “Coral Calcium Supreme” or any other coral calcium product can treat or cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other serious diseases. The defendants also cannot make unsupported claims that the body absorbs coral calcium better than other calcium supplements in the market.
The settlement resolves charges in a June 9, 2003 complaint filed by the Commission in the federal district court alleging that the settling defendants, together with defendants Kevin Trudeau, Shop America (USA), LLC, Shop America Marketing Group, LLC, and TruStar Global Media, Ltd., made false and unsubstantiated claims in a widely disseminated infomercial that Coral Calcium Supreme would treat or cure cancer, MS, heart disease and other serious diseases. The FTC also challenged claims that a daily serving of Coral Calcium Supreme provides the same amount of bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk, and that the body absorbs significantly more of the calcium in coral calcium – up to 100 times more, and at a significantly faster rate – than the calcium contained in commonly available calcium supplements. (The case against Kevin Trudeau and his companies still is pending.)
The FTC alleges that the challenged claims go far beyond the existing scientific evidence concerning the recognized health benefits of calcium.
Under the settlement, the defendants cannot make the challenged efficacy claims including that scientific research proves that calcium supplements are able to reverse or cure cancer in the human body. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from making the types of comparative bioavailability claims challenged in the complaint. In addition, the settlement prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting that any dietary supplement can prevent, treat, or cure any disease and from making unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance,or efficacy for all dietary supplements, foods, drugs, cosmetics, devices, or services. The settlement further prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions, or interpretations of any test or study for any foods, drugs, dietary supplements, cosmetics, or services.
The settlement requires the defendants to recall any product packaging that makes the challenged claims. It also requires them to send a notice to resellers and distributors advising them of the FTC’s action, and directing them to stop using promotional materials containing the deceptive claims, and informing them that if they do not comply, the defendants will stop doing business with them.
The settlement allows the FTC to recover all royalties owed to defendant Barefoot in connection with the Coral Calcium Supreme infomercial marketing. Based on the defendants’ financial condition, the settlement does not require additional redress. The settlement does, however, contain an avalanche clause of $3 million, if the court finds that the defendants misrepresented their financial condition.
Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the proposed stipulated final order for permanent injunction was 5-0. The stipulated final order was entered by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on January 15, 2004.
Copies of the stipulated final order for permanent injunction 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.