FTC Charges Supplement Marketers with False Weight Loss Claims

By on May 13, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against Lanada Biomedical, Inc., accusing the company of falsely advertising that perimenopausal or menopausal women over 40 could increase their metabolism and lose significant weight and belly fat by using the dietary supplement Amberen.

Lunada’s marketing campaign and websites included claims like: “Amberen restores hormonal balance naturally, so the weight can just fall right off. Even that stubborn belly fat.” They also claimed that Amberen is “the ONLY product on the market today clinically proven to cause sustained weight loss for women over 40.”

The FTC challenged Lunada’s claims by pointing out that the 2001 clinical trial directed by the Russian scientists who developed Amberen failed to specifically measure weight loss and used a double dose of Amberen.  In addition, a later study yielded no statistically significant weight loss differences between test and control groups.

“Lunada marketed Amberen to women over 40 as ‘clinically proven’ to cause weight loss,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But their own studies didn’t support those claims. The best way to lose weight is still diet and exercise.”

The FTC also accuses defendants of falsely claiming a 93% customer satisfaction rate and misleading consumers about an offer to try Amberen “risk-free” for 30 days.  The purported month long “risk-free” offer was predicated on customers first receiving a 90-day supply of Amberen and then returning two unopened product boxes within 30 days of placing the order, with consumers incurring relevant shipping expenses. It was also reported that in many instances consumers were not reimbursed the incurred shipping and handling charges.

Nationwide sales of Amberen totaled almost $65 million between 2010 and 2013.  The FTC seeks to preclude Lunada from from further advertising weight loss benefits of Amberen for women over 40.

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