FTC NEWS RELEASE: JANUARY 19, 1995
DEFENDANTS IN A PREVIOUS FTC LAWSUIT AGREE TO PAY $45,000 CIVIL PENALTY TO SETTLE CHARGES
HealthComm Inc., and its officer, Jeffrey S. Bland, have agreed to pay a $45,000 civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively advertised various weight-loss products and diet supplements, in violation of a 1992 FTC consent order. In addition to the civil penalty, the settlement would prohibit HealthComm and Bland from future violations of the Commission’s order.
HealthComm Inc. is based in Gig Harbor, Washington. The 1992 consent order settled FTC charges against HealthComm and Bland for alleged deceptive advertising of the “Nu-Day Diet” program. Under that order, the respondents paid $30,000 as disgorgement and are prohibited from, among other things, making “metabolism-altering” claims for any dietary program or food product. The respondents also are prohibited from misrepre- senting the conclusions of scientific studies, and from making unsubstantiated weight-loss or weight-maintenance claims or other unsubstantiated claims about the performance, efficacy or safety of any food or drug.
According to the FTC complaint detailing the new charges, HealthComm and Bland sell various products and programs for weight loss and weight management, including “Nu-Day Meal Replacement Formula,” “Body Comp,” “UltraMaintain,” “UltraMeal,” and “UltraBalance.” The defendants also sell “UltraClear,” and “UltraClear Sustain,” which are promoted for “metabolic clearing” and nutritional support of persons suffering from various ailments. The defendants market the products to consumers by direct mail and through health professionals, including physicians, osteopaths and chiropractors. The FTC alleged that the defendants violated the FTC’s 1992 order by representing that UltraMaintain and UltraMeal alter the mitochondria in the body’s cells so that cells convert more food into energy. In addition, the FTC charged that the defendants violated the FTC’s 1992 order by:
- failing to possess and rely upon substantiation for a variety of their weight-loss claims;
- failing to possess and rely upon substantiation for numerous claims about the UltraClear product’s ability to reduce a variety of disease symptoms and eliminate toxins from the body; and
- failing to possess and rely upon substantiation for claims that the UltraMaintain dietary program is effective in reducing blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
The complaint also alleged that the defendants falsely made various representations about the existence, contents, purpose, results and conclusions of purported scientific testing of their products in violation of the FTC’s 1992 order.
The proposed consent decree to settle these charges, which requires the court’s approval to become binding, would require HealthComm and Bland to pay $45,000 in civil penalties and would prohibit them from future order violations. Finally, the pro- posed settlement includes various reporting provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance with the terms of the settlement.
The Commission vote to authorizing filing of the complaint and consent decree was 3-0, with Commissioner Christine A. Varney not participating. The complaint and consent decree were filed by the Department of Justice, on behalf of the FTC, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in Tacoma, on Jan. 19.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree will be available shortly. Copies of other news releases in this case are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Brenda A. Mack, Office of Public Affairs 202-326-2182 STAFF CONTACT: Louise Jung, Bureau of Consumer Protection 202-326-2989 (FTC Docket No. C-3380) (Civil Action No. C94-5024 RJB) Notes on Jeffrey Bland ||| Quackwatch Home Page
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MEDIA CONTACT: Brenda A. Mack, Office of Public Affairs
STAFF CONTACT: Louise Jung, Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FTC Docket No. C-3380)
(Civil Action No. C94-5024 RJB)