Skip to main content

FTC Pounds Patch Promoters

The Federal Trade Commission continues to try to get the media to better police its airwaves for spurious health claims.

Wednesday, the marketers of Revopatch Plus, SG Institute, settled an FTC complaint for "false and unsubstantiated claims" for its weight-loss and cellulite-reduction skin patch. SG had claimed its sea kelp patch dissolved pounds, reduced fat, melted away cellulite and regulated metabolism, and that sea kelp had been approved by the FDA.

Among the advertising outlets was Telemundo in Florida. The FTC's pursuit of Revopatch was part of its Hispanic Law Enforcement and Outreach Initiative.

In announcing the settlement, the FTC took pains to point out that the defendants had made one or more of the weight loss claims the FTC "red flagged" in a campaign to educate the media about what claims in weight-loss ads should raise immediate questions.

One of the seven "red flags" the FTC tried to drill into radio and TV outlets is the suggestion that diet patches worn on the body can cause substantial weight loss.

The FTC last month launched an online educational "sting" to help consumers better identify bogus weight-loss claims, though broadcasters confused about what is obviously bogus could check it out, too mimics a weight-loss products site, complete with a host of "red flag" bogus claims for FatFoe, a pill promising no sweat, no starvation weight loss, "Guaranteed to work for everyone – regardless of how much you eat, regardless of how much you’d like to lose."

If the consumers take the bait and try to order the product, they are told: "The ad to which you responded is a fake, posted by the Federal Trade Commission to warn consumers about diet rip-offs." They are then shown point by point how the ad was deceptive.

The FTC has repeatedly asked broadcast and cable outlets to better police the claims and formats of diet and health supplement ads. The commission is currently reviewing the effectiveness of that red-flagging policy on the number of such deceptive ads that are making it to air.

The FTC has avoided targeting the media in its complaints, but it has the power to do so if it concludes its informational campaign on what to screen for has failed to register.

According to an FTC source, the commission is still considering whether to send a reminder/warning letter to Telemundo.