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Weight-loss pill marketers fined

January 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday fined the marketers of four weight-loss pills $25 million for making false advertising claims including rapid weight loss and cancer prevention.

FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras said that the products would remain on store shelves, but that the companies would have to stop making the false claims.

"What we challenge is the marketing of the claims," she said.

"The marketers are required to back up the claims with the science, and if they can't do that they can't make the claim. But we don't ban the products from the shelves."

The FTC investigated a variety of claims made, including reduction in the risk of osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and even cancer, Majoras said.

Fines were levied against marketers of Xenadrine EFX, One-A-Day WeightSmart, CortiSlim and TrimSpa.

Telephone calls to the marketers seeking comment were not returned Thursday.

Majoras said some of the money paid as civil fines would be returned to consumers. "We always try to get money back when consumers have been deceived," she said. "In this instance I'm pleased to say that I believe we're going to get millions back from some of these products to be able to return it to consumers."

The largest fine was levied against the marketer of Xenadrine EFX, made by New Jersey-based Nutraquest Inc., formerly known as Cytodyne Technologies. The marketer will pay at least $8 million and as much as $12.8 million. A federal lawsuit has been filed in Newark, N.J. The marketer was identified as RTC Research & Development, based in Manasquan, N.J.

A $12-million fine was assessed against Window Rock Health Laboratories, based in Brea, the marketer of CortiSlim. Majoras said CortiSlim falsely promised that all users would see permanent and fast weight loss.

Morristown, N.J.-based Bayer Corp., which marketed WeightSmart, will pay a $3.2-million civil penalty to settle the claims.

TrimSpa, based in Whippany, N.J., will pay $1.5 million. Goen Technologies Corp., also based in Whippany, marketed TrimSpa.

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