- FTC Settles With Skinny Pills Marketer
- February 10, 2004
- Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
The Federal Trade Commission announced on February 4, 2004 that it has entered into a proposed settlement agreement with The Fountain of Youth, LLC and its principal, Edita Kaye, in connection with the lawsuit filed against the defendants by the FTC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The complaint charged that the Florida-based defendants made false and unsubstantiated claims about their Skinny Pill line of dietary supplement products in advertisements disseminated via the Internet and other media. The claims included:
- My PM Skinny Sleep works overnight with a thermic formula to burn fat while you sleep . . . to make sure you wake up . . . skinnier than when you went to bed.
- When you eat a carb, Skinny Carbs blocks the starch from being broken down into sugar . . . Skinny Carbs cuts right into that cycle . . . and prevents starch from turning into sugar and then into fat. . . .
- Skinny Pill for Kids: This is the FIRST thermic and herbal formula ever developed for weight loss for children 6 to 12 and has been created to help our children win their battle with fat.
The FTC's key allegations were that the defendants did not have a reasonable basis to substantiate the claims that Skinny Pill AM and Skinny Sleep PM caused weight loss, increased fat burning, normalized insulin and blood sugar levels, or caused fat to be passed through the body before it was digested. The FTC also alleged that the claims that Skinny Pill AM and Skinny Sleep PM cause substantial weight loss and that there exists scientific research to prove that claim were false. The Commission also concluded that the defendants had not substantiated the claims that Skinny Carbs blocks the absorption of carbohydrates, causes weight loss, normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels, and blocks new fat from forming after eating a starchy meal. Finally, with respect to Skinny Pill for Kids, the FTC found that the defendants failed to substantiate, among other claims, that the product causes weight loss, reduces the risk of obesity related diseases, helps control diabetes and digestive disorders in children, or is safe. It also found that there is no scientific research proving that the product causes weight loss, or is safe for children.
The proposed settlement prohibits the defendants from making these claims and other specified health or weight loss claims in connection with the Skinny Pill line of products or any similar product unless the claims are substantiated by "competent and reliable scientific evidence." The FTC also levied a $6 million fine, which has been suspended due to the defendants' poor financial health, and imposed a record-keeping requirement.
Significance: This case is just one more illustration of the FTC strictly and aggressively enforcing its regulations against deceptive marketers, particularly marketers engaged in selling dietary pills and supplements. As recently as last week, the FTC settled a similar case with the marketers of Coral Calcium Supplements claiming that they engaged in deceptive advertising practices in connection with the sale of their dietary supplements.