Would you like to lose weight without diet or exercise, by a magical fat-burning, calorie-busting, body-slimming dietary supplement or cream? Here’s how….…
This year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mailed 11,585 refund checks to consumers who lost money buying dietary supplements deceptively marketed as “fat burning” and “calorie blocking.”
The refunds came from an FTC settlement with Canadian marketers who, according to the FTC press release, falsely claimed that their Double Shot pills would cause rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss without diet or exercise.
The business went under the name the “Freedom Center Against Obesity,” and promised that users could eat as much of any food as they wanted and lose 15 to 20 pounds a week, just by taking the pills.
FTC also mailed 10,620 refund checks totaling more than $416,000 to consumers who lost money buying two skin creams marketed by L’Occitane, Inc., which falsely claimed the creams had “body slimming” capabilities.
Whenever you’re marketing a dietary supplement or cosmetic (say, a cream) for weight loss, be sure to consult FDA and FTC counsel for legal advice regarding regulatory hazards. You might think you can make all sorts of claims on your website and that they will escape notice, but you can face enforcement by either FDA or FTC or both. Private plaintiffs may also get their attorneys to file class actions.
Claims may seem very simple and evident, but if they lack substantiation – if they are not backed by competent and reliable legal evidence, you will face legal jeopardy. This can be an expensive lesson, particularly for startups who may find themselves shut down if they get legal advice only after litigation commences.
Weight loss claims are particularly vulnerable to enforcement, as FTC has red-flagged these kinds of health claims as likely to be fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading. Slimmer and slimmer is a good motto for your advertising and marketing campaign – it can be aggressive yet not so much that it runs afoul of regulatory and legal tripwires.
Contact us so we can assess your potential exposure and counsel you on how to properly position your product for market.