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FTC Sues QVC Over Claims

March 25, 2004|From Associated Press

Regulators sued home shopping channel QVC Inc. on Wednesday, charging that it made deceptive claims about weight-loss products sold on the air.

The complaint from the Federal Trade Commission accused QVC of false advertising of For Women Only weight-loss products such as zero-fat and zero-carb pills. It also alleged unsubstantiated claims about Lite Bites "fat-fighting bars" and other weight-loss or energy-boosting products.

"We're seeking substantial civil penalties in the millions of dollars," said Joni Lupovitz, assistant director for enforcement at the FTC's bureau of consumer protection.

The FTC says QVC violated a June 2000 order barring the company from making misleading claims about dietary supplements.

The complaint accuses QVC of falsely claiming that the For Women Only's zero-fat pills prevent fat absorption and that the carb pills block sugar and carbohydrates from being stored as fat.

The company also advertised Lite Bites' bars as products that could lead a consumer to lose 125 pounds or more, the agency said.

"QVC's claims for these products are not only unsubstantiated but, for some, scientifically impossible," said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau.

"No pill or drink can cause anyone to lose 125 pounds," he said.

"QVC didn't keep its promise to use sound science and solid evidence to back up the claims it makes for the health products it sells."

QVC said that it took steps to make sure it complied with the law.

"We work extraordinarily hard to make sure that our 24-hour live broadcasting meets the highest possible standards of truthfulness, and we are ready to demonstrate that fact to the court," said Doug Briggs, president and chief executive of the West Chester, Pa.-based company.

The products were advertised on the network beginning in the summer of 2000 and continuing into 2003, the FTC said.

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