FTC files complaint against Pom Wonderful over advertised claims

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The Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint September 27 charging the makers of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice and POMx supplements with making false and unsubstantiated claims in their advertising.

The FTC specifically claims that Pom Wonderful LLC, sister corporation Roll International Corp. and its principals violated federal law by making deceptive claims that their products will treat or prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. The claims in question appeared in print ads, promotional websites and newsletters. The company sells POMx pills and liquid extract through direct mail.

The complaint would require that future company claims not be misleading and comply with Food and Drug Administration regulations, according to the FTC. The agency also said Mark Dreher, Pom Wonderful's former head of scientific and regulatory affairs and an expert endorser, has agreed to a settlement barring him from making any claims for Pom Wonderful that are misleading or that do not comply with FDA requirements.

Betsy Lordan, an FTC spokeswoman, said a hearing is scheduled in eight months on the complaint.

Pom Wonderful said in a statement that it “disagrees with the FTC and believes that the commission's allegations…are completely unwarranted.” It is initiating legal action against the FTC, the company said in a statement.

“Pom believes very strongly in its First Amendment rights to communicate the promising results of our extensive scientific research program on pomegranates. We believe the commission is acting beyond its jurisdiction, exceeding its authority and creating a new regulatory scheme that attempts to treat our juice as a drug, which it is not,” the company said in a statement. “The FTC is violating Pom's Constitutional rights to share useful and important information with the public, and therefore, we have initiated a separate lawsuit to preserve these rights.”

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