FTC Settles Infomercial, Mail-Order Health Product Cases

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The Federal Trade Commission announced settlements yesterday with health supplement marketers accused of making unsubstantiated claims about products purported to enhance breast growth, speed weight loss and treat health problems.


In the larger monetary settlement, Wellquest International and Tony Hoffman Productions Inc. agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle charges concerning claims made in infomercials about their products. The companies and their principals also were charged with making misrepresentations in upsells for third-party buying club memberships, the FTC said.


According to the FTC, products sold by the infomercial marketers included Bloussant, which they claimed could increase breast size by two cups, for $220 per two-month supply; EnerX, an herbal supplement they claimed enhanced male virility without side effects, for $109 per two-month supply; and D-Snore, a mouth spray they claimed reduced snoring, for $58 per one-month supply.


In addition to infomercials, Bloussant ads ran in Mademoiselle, Elle and Allure magazines, and marketing for the product included monthly direct mailers, the FTC said.


In the second case, Lifestyle Fascination Inc., a New Jersey print and online catalog marketer, agreed to pay $175,000 to settle charges that it made unsubstantiated claims for four of its products in violation of a 1994 order, the FTC said.


According to the FTC, the products included the Beverly Hills Spa Diet, a $19.95 fruit juice concentrate drink with a purported fat-burning ingredient; Fight the Fat, a $39.95-per-two-ounce-bottle liquid supplement containing a shellfish extract with purported fat-burning benefits; Carni Q-Gel, a $49.95-per-bottle dietary supplement purported to treat heart problems; and Sani-Mate Plug-In Sterilizer, a $39.95 portable ozone air cleaner.


The company also failed to make good on a 100 percent refund guarantee, the FTC said. Lifestyle Fascinations previously paid $60,000 in 1997 to settle FTC charges that it violated the 1994 order with unsubstantiated claims for a pain-relieving device, a pest-control device and an antenna substitute, according to the FTC.


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