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FTC Challenges Marketer of Herbal Drug

An online marketer of an herbal remedy known as comfrey agreed Friday to cease promoting oral use of the product after the Federal Trade Commission charged that the substance can lead to liver problems when taken internally.

Christopher Enterprises Inc., Springville, UT, claimed that the products it marketed that contained comfrey were safe for internal consumption and beneficial in the treatment of a variety of serious conditions, the FTC said.

However, comfrey actually contains toxins that can lead to serious liver damage and should only be used externally, the FTC said. Christopher Enterprises agreed to stop promoting the use of comfrey internally and on open wounds and to include a warning on all comfrey products that only external use is permitted.

The company makes comfrey products available to consumers by mail and telephone as well as through its Web site, www.drchristopher.com. Christopher Enterprises products are also available through retail.

In conjunction with the FTC, the Food and Drug Administration issued a letter to the health marketing industry concerning the safety of products containing comfrey. The letter, sent to trade associations and industry groups, urged marketers to stop selling supplements containing comfrey and to contact consumers to alert them to the dangers of the products as well.

The Christopher Enterprises case is part of Operation Cure.All, a sweep of online herbal remedy marketers that the FTC announced in June. Six Internet marketing firms were charged in the June action.

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