January 2, 2003
The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with a California-based company that marketed a so-called breast enhancement product, "The Isis System." The company will also pay up to $22 million in consumer redress.
According to the FTC complaint, the defendants deceptively represented that Isis would increase a woman's breast size safely and with no negative side effects. The consent order requires that defendants possess competent and reliable scientific evidence before making the types of claims challenged in the complaint.
The FTC's complaint names Vital Dynamics, Inc. (VDI), a Conoga Park, California corporation doing business as ISIS, and its officers, Geoffrey V. Knight, Mark D. Berman, and Allen Smith.
According to the complaint, the defendants advertised Isis, a product consisting of a dietary supplement and topical cream, extensively through print, radio, TV, and the Internet with statements such as: "Fuller, Firmer Breasts in as Little as a Few Weeks . . . Guaranteed" and depictions of women captioned "I went from wearing an 'A' cup to a 'B' Cup - without surgery!"
Consumers could order Isis only by calling a toll-free telephone number. The defendants' telemarketers explained how the system was supposed to work, and offered a complete 90-day risk-free guarantee. VDI charged from $199 to $599 for a six-month supply of Isis.
The complaint charges that the defendants lacked a reasonable basis for their numerous efficacy claims for Isis, including claims that the product would enlarge a women's breasts by one cup size or more; that it would tone and firm the breast; that it had a high success rate; that increased breast size would be maintained after six months' use of the product, if women stopped taking Isis or continued on only a light maintenance program; and that Isis was safe.
The complaint further alleges that the defendants' claims that Isis had no reported side effects was false, because, in fact, defendants had received hundreds of complaints about side effects including headache, nausea, and allergic reactions. In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants falsely claimed that dissatisfied consumers could easily obtain full refunds.
The stipulated settlement requires the defendants to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence before making any claims in connection with any product containing one or more of the ingredients in Isis. The settlement further requires the defendants to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence before making any claims about the benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects of any service, therapy, dietary supplement, food, drug, cosmetic, or device. It also prevents the defendants from misrepresenting any refund policy in the future.
In addition, the settlement orders the individual defendants, Knight, Berman, and Smith to pay approximately $16,667 each, for a total of $50,000 in redress, based upon the defendants' financial condition. The settlement requires the defendants to pay the full amount of consumer redress - $22 million in the event the court finds that they misrepresented their finances. Additionally, the settlement contains various record-keeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.
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