Court Bars Firm From Drug Claim

A U.S. District Court barred a company from making claims that lured low-income consumers without insurance into spending $199 with the expectation of receiving free prescription medication, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.

The defendants, and its principal Geoffrey Hasler, based in Louisville, KY, targeted low-income consumers who spend more than $100 a month for medications, according to the complaint. These consumers might qualify for free prescription medicine through one of the many patient assistance programs, or PAPs, operated by pharmaceutical companies.

The defendants' television and radio ads urged consumers who are not insured to call a toll-free number to learn whether they are eligible to receive free prescription medication.

Defendants' sales reps routinely told consumers that they were eligible for such free medication, available through their program, the FTC said. The reps also are alleged to have told consumers that the company deals directly with pharmaceutical companies and the federal government to obtain free prescription medications for consumers, and that the company would provide the medication directly to the consumers or to their doctors.

But consumers did not get medications from MFM. The company provided them with PAP application forms to submit to the pharmaceutical companies, the FTC said. After paying $199.95 for a six-month enrollment in the defendants' program, many consumers learned that they were ineligible to receive these medications for free from a PAP, according to the complaint.

The FTC said the company routinely denied requests for refunds from customers who were unable to get medications through their program.

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