FTC Pursues On-Air Quackery

Some of the marketers of dietary supplements Supreme Greens and Coral Calcium Daily have agreed not to air TV infomercials claiming that their products can do everything from prevent cancer to melt away the pounds. Some marketers, but not all.

The Federal Trade Commission was seeking both a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order (TRO) in a Massachusetts court Monday. The judge there combined the two requests and is expected to rule on the motion Tuesday. A TRO is good for 10 days, while the restraining order would last until the case is settled.

According to the FTC, Healthy Solutions and their principals Alejandro Guerrero (a.k.a. Alex Guerrero), Michael Howell, and Greg Geremesz, have stipulated to the preliminary injunction.

Still fighting the injunctions at press time were Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc. (DMC), ITV Direct, Inc. (ITV), and Donald Barrett (Barrett),  and Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Triad ML Marketing, Inc., King Media, Inc., and Allen Stern.

The FTC has charged that the supplements' marketers have made false claims that their products can prevent or cure cancer and other maladies as well as cause significant weight loss.

The ads have been running sporadically on a number of cable nets, including Women’s Entertainment and the Food Network, as well as PAX TV, according to the FTC. The company initially pulled the ads, but has put them back on "when it needed more money," according to an FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection staffer.

If the judge grants the TRO, the FTC plans to serve notice to the networks that have carried the ads that they can no longer do so. The FTC has been trying to crack down on bogus health ads and a spokeswoman there says the cable industry is lagging broadcasters' in policing their airwaves for facially false ad claims.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.