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Consumer advocates queasy over bestselling health book

August 23, 2005|Claudia Parsons | Reuters

NEW YORK — He went to prison for fraud and was ordered by the U.S. government to stop touting health products on infomercials, but Kevin Trudeau's book "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" is a bestseller.

Trudeau, who for years sold snoring remedies and memory enhancers through long-format commercials dressed up as talk shows, says he is a consumer advocate battling the "unholy alliance" of drug companies and government regulators.

"It's all about money. The drug industry does not want people to get healthy," he says in a commercial for his book. Trudeau says he has sold about 4 million copies of the book in less than a year, a huge amount for a self-published book marketed initially only through the Internet and television infomercials.

The book -- whose back cover says "Never get sick again!" and "Learn the specific natural cures for herpes, acid reflux, diabetes

That attracted the attention of the New York Consumer Protection Board, which issued a warning this month that Trudeau promised cures he did not deliver.

"This book is exploiting and misleading people who are searching for cures to serious illnesses," said Teresa Santiago, who chairs the board. "From cover to cover, this book is a fraud."

Trudeau filed a lawsuit to stop the Consumer Protection Board from approaching TV stations to persuade them not to air his infomercials.

He says he recommends herbs, vitamins and other alternative treatments and, while urging people to consult doctors, lists cures such as shark cartilage for tumors and organic dark chocolate for stress.

Last September, Trudeau agreed to pay $2 million to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission lawsuit over his claim that coral calcium could cure or prevent cancer, but he admitted no wrongdoing. Trudeau agreed to stop marketing health products, but he was allowed to market books.

FTC attorney Laura Sullivan said the regulator was watching Trudeau carefully but had taken no action over the book.

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