Weight-loss companies charged with false advertising

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Originally posted on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/08/health/weight-loss-companies-fraud/index.html?eref=rss_mostpopular

Sensa's advertising claimed it is clinically proven to help people lose an average of 30 pounds without dieting or exercise.


That “miracle” weight-loss item you have actually seen on TV might not live up to the buzz.

The Federal Trade Commission has actually charged 4 companies with deceptive marketing associated with their weight-loss items. “Operation Failed Resolution,” as the FTC calls it, is an effort by the federal company to punish companies’ deceptive claims about products that allegedly assist consumers lose weight.

“Resolutions to reduce weight are easy to make but difficult to keep,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Security, said in a statement. “And the possibilities of being successful simply by spraying something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs or making use of a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn’t there.”.

Just three weight-loss medicines are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for long-lasting use by particular grownups: Belviq, Qsymia and Orlistat (offered non-prescription as Alli).

The FTC has reached a settlement with Sensa, Inc. and a partial settlement with LeanSpa, LLC., according to an FTC news release. The release likewise announced the charges filed against L’Occitane and HCG Diet plan Direct.

Users spray Sensa on their food to presumably reduce hunger. It contains maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate and silica, as well as natural and artificial tastes.

Sensa’s advertising declared the product is scientifically shown to assist other people lose about 30 pounds in six months without dieting or workout.

“Simply spray Sensa on, consume all the foods you like and enjoy the pounds come off,” one commercial assured. “It’s that simple.”.

A one-month supply of Sensa is $59.00 (plus shipping and handling). Benefit from the sales of Sensa in the United States in between 2008 and 2012 totaled nearly $364 million, according to court papers.

The FTC problem called Sensa Products LLC, Sensa Inc., Sensa Chief Executive Officer Adam Goldberg and Sensa developer Dr. Alan Hirsch. All were arresteded for making unsubstantiated claims.

“SENSA ® made a business decision to settle with the FTC so it could focus on the core of its company: its consumers,” the company said in response on its internet site. “The settlement consists of no admission of wrongful conduct by the business … The business has actually accepted make changes to its advertising claims but otherwise will continue business as usual.”.

The FTC shut down LeanSpa leader Boris Mizhen’s weight-loss business in December 2011, asserting they were utilizing fake information websites to promote acai berry and colon cleansing items. The FTC said consumers were being duped by paying up to $79.99 in shipping and handling charges for a “complimentary trial.”.

In a statement, LeanSpa said that it “regrets that it was required by heavy-handed government methods and monetary situations, including an unwarranted freeze of the personal properties of LeanSpa principal Boris Mizhen and his better half (who had not been even associated with the business and has been accused of no misdeed), to enter into this settlement. LeanSpa never needs to have been named in this suit and has been messed up by it.

“LeanSpa was an outstanding business with first rank scientific advisors and an excellent, scientifically checked weight management item. It did not mislead consumers in its product claims or billing practices, and was itself a sufferer of misleading and deceitful conduct by its advertising partners. The settlement is a practical compromise which confesses no misdeed by LeanSpa and Mr. Mizhen and spares them expensive, protracted lawsuits. Might they have had their day in court, they are confident they and their actions would have been completely vindicated.”.

The business’s internet site, LeanSpa.com, appeared to be down Wednesday.

L’Occitane offers beauty items and fragrances that are “motivated by the Mediterranean way of living,” according to the company’s internet site.

L’Occitane launched a marketing campaign in 2012 that asserted its Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Joy skin creams can assist consumers slim down. Commercials said Almond Beautiful Shape can “trim 1.3 inches in just 4 weeks” while Almond Shaping Delight would “noticeably fine-tune and reshape the silhouette.”.

7 ounces of the items cost $48 and $44, respectively.

“L’Occitane takes enormous care in getting our whole line of items and we want our consumers to make knowledgeable choices,” the business said in a statement. “When the FTC raised concerns in April 2012 concerning the method research findings for Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight were communicated, we immediately took actions to review our advertising and marketing processes, and coordinated completely with the FTC. As a result of the FTC questions, L’Occitane has executed a set of even more extensive policies and procedures that will guide future medical testing and guarantee that our advertising and marketing comply with FTC regulations and standards.”.

HCG Diet plan Direct offers a liquid type of the bodily hormone chorionic gonadotropin, which is produced by the human placenta and has long been stated to promote weight-loss. HGC products are offered online and in stores as pellets, sprays or oral drops, and are expected to be taken with a very-low calorie eating of less than 800 calories every day.

In November 2011, HCG Diet plan Direct and 6 various other companies got warning letters from the FTC and the FDA.

“These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight reduction and are potentially hazardous even if taken as directed,” stated Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Medicine Examination and Research, at the time. “A very low-calorie eating must only be used under appropriate clinical supervision.”.

The company falsely asserted the drops were approved by the FDA and charged about $35 for a seven-day supply, according to the FTC. It had sales totaling $3 million in between 2009 and 2012.

Execs from HCG Diet plan Direct did not react to CNN’s requests for remark.

Three of the four companies charged owe money to repay clients, according to the FTC: Sensa will pay $26.5 million; L’Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000; and LeanSpa will give up “cash, real estate and personal property” totaling $7.3 million. HCG Eating Direct has submitted financial statements to the FTC saying it is unable to pay the $3.2 million judgment; the charge has been suspended.

The business and defendants called in the legal charges are barred from making any other weight-loss claims about nutritional supplements, food or medicines unless they have dependable clinical evidence, according to the FTC.

Americans invest billions of dollars every year on supplements. The industry reported an estimated $25 billion in sales in 2009.

“Market analysts recommend that the slump in the economy has led to increased spending on these products, as consumers attempt to handle their own health care and stay clear of pricey physician brows through and prescription medications,” the FTC said on its internet site.

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