WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2001 -- A Seattle couple who sold a variety of herbal products and an electrical unit called the "Zapper" as a cure for such ailments as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, have reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlement would require that Western Herb & Dietary Products agree to stop making claims that their products are effective in treating any disease or condition, unless they have scientific evidence to support the claims.

The FTC alleged in a complaint filed in federal court in June 2001 that the company, based in Blaine, Washington, marketed the "Zapper Electrical Unit" and their "cure packages" as treatments and/or cures for various serious diseases, and claimed that use of their herbal products made surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary for persons with cancer. The FTC complaint alleged that these claims were unsubstantiated.

The suit also alleged that the company and its owners, Marvin and Miguelina Beckwith, marketed and sold various herbal formulas and herbal cure products through the web site "www.curecancer.com." The defendants claimed that all diseases are caused by a specific type of parasite and that herbal remedies, along with use of the "Zapper," would cure them immediately.

The proposed stipulated final judgment and order, which requires the court's approval, would prohibit the defendants from making any claims that their products are effective in treating or alleviating any disease or condition, unless they can substantiate the claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence.

In addition, the proposed settlement would prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting that use of their products in the treatment of cancer makes surgery or chemotherapy unnecessary.

The proposed order includes a suspended judgment in the amount of $50,000.