Evidence to Support Ad Claims Was Slim, Per FTC Complaint
Three Florida-based companies and their principals have been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with making false and unsubstantiated claims in connection with the advertising for “Pedia Loss,” a purported children’s weight loss product. In their advertisements, the respondents claim that Pedia Loss is an “appetite suppressant for children 6 and older” that “slows the absorption of fat” and “safely burn[s] fat.” The FTC charges that there is no competent and reliable evidence to support these claims.
The Commission’s administrative complaint names Dynamic Health of Florida, LLC; Chhabra Group LLC; DBS Laboratories, LLC; Vineet Chhabra, also known as Vincent Chhabra; and Jonathan Barash. The companies are based in Weston, Florida. Vineet Chhabra resides in Golden Beach, Florida, and Jonathan Barash resides in Parkland, Florida. The Commission has accepted for public comment a proposed consent agreement to settle the charges against Mr. Barash.
“Obesity among children is a serious and growing concern,” said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Marketers who exploit parents’ concerns should expect close scrutiny from the FTC.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, the respondents advertised Pedia Loss through various Web sites, including www.pedialoss.com, www.dynamichealthproducts.com, and www.dbslabs.com, and in Cosmopolitan magazine. The complaint alleges that the respondents’ ads claimed that Pedia Loss causes weight loss in overweight or obese children ages 6 and over and that when taken by overweight or obese children ages 6 and over, Pedia Loss causes weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing fat burning, and slowing carbohydrate absorption. According to the complaint, these claims are unsubstantiated.
The complaint also challenges advertising disseminated by respondents for Fabulously Feminine, a supplement purportedly designed to enhance female sexuality. Ads for the product
stated that Fabulously Feminine “has been shown in a double-blind, placebo-controlled Stanford University study” to “enhance [women’s] sexual desire” by “stimulat[ing] blood flow” and “increas[ing] sensitivity.” The respondents advertised Fabulously Feminine on various Web sites, including www.usaprescription.com, www.dbslabs.com, and www.medprescribe.com, and in print ads in various newspapers. The complaint alleges that the respondents’ claim that Fabulously Feminine will increase a woman’s libido, sexual desire, and sexual satisfaction by stimulating blood flow and increasing sensitivity is unsubstantiated. It further alleges that the respondents’ claim that clinical testing proves that Fabulously Feminine enhances a woman’s satisfaction with her sex life and level of sexual desire is false.
The Commission also accepted for public comment a proposed agreement to settle the allegations of the complaint against respondent Jonathan Barash. The proposed agreement would require competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate weight loss, appetite suppression, fat burning, or carbohydrate absorption claims for Pedia Loss or any other covered product or service. Similarly, it would require competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate claims that Fabulously Feminine or any other covered product or service will increase a woman’s libido, sexual desire, or sexual satisfaction. The proposed order would prohibit Mr. Barash from making unsubstantiated efficacy claims for any dietary supplement, food, drug, or device, and any health-related service or program promoting weight loss or sexual enhancement, as well as prohibiting him from misrepresenting any test or study. It would allow him to make representations specifically permitted by the Food and Drug Administration. Finally, it contains various other record-keeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring compliance.
The Commission votes to authorize staff to issue the administrative complaint and proposed settlement agreement with Barash was 5-0.
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, proposed consent agreement, and an analysis of the agreement to aid in 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 in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), 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.