- FTC Prohibits Further False Advertising Of Coral Calcium Supplements
- February 5, 2004
- Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
On January 22, 2004, the FTC announced a settlement in its case against Robert Barefoot, Deonna Enterprises, Inc., and Karbo Enterprises, direct marketers of the dietary supplement known as "Coral Calcium Supreme." The FTC had filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on January 15, 2004, charging that the defendants made false and unsubstantiated claims in their widely disseminated infomercial, including that Coral Calcium Supreme would treat or cure cancer, MS, heart disease, and other serious diseases. The infomercial also falsely claimed that a daily serving of Coral Calcium Supreme provides the same amount of bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk and is more readily absorbed than the calcium contained in other calcium supplements.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are prohibited from:
- Claiming that scientific research proves that calcium supplements can cure cancer;
- Making comparative bioavailability claims;
- Misrepresenting that dietary supplements can prevent, treat, or cure disease;
- Making unsubstantiated health claims about health benefits, performance, or efficacy of all dietary supplements, foods, drugs, cosmetics, devices, or services; and
- Misrepresenting the results, contents, validity, and conclusions of any test or study of all dietary supplements, foods, drugs, cosmetics, devices, or services.
The settlement also requires the defendants to recall any product contained in packaging embodying the false claims, and send a notice to all sellers and distributors of Coral Calcium Supreme notifying them of the terms of the settlement and demanding that the sellers and distributors cease utilizing the offending materials.
The FTC demanded disgorgement of all royalties owed to Barefoot as financial redress, and incorporated an "avalanche clause" requiring the defendants to pay a fine of $3 million should the defendants financial resources exceed their representations.
The FTC did not reach a settlement with co-defendants Kevin Trudeau, Shop America (USA), LLC, Shop America Marketing Group, LLC, and TruStar Global Media, Ltd.
Significance: The FTC continues its efforts to clamp down on direct marketers making false health claims that cannot be substantiated by credible scientific testing.