ShopNBC, the third largest television "home shopping" network retailer in the United States, has agreed to pay a $215,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that it violated a previous Federal Trade Commission order by making unsubstantiated health claims for Physician's RX, a dietary supplement containing a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
ShopNBC is owned by ValueVision Inc., based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The cable channel markets a variety of consumer products including jewelry, housewares and health and beauty products through live, 24-hour programming. It also operates a website, www.ShopNBC.com.
In July 2001, the Commission issued an administrative complaint charging ValueVision with violating the FTC Act by allegedly making unsubstantiated health-related claims for a variety of weight loss, cellulite treatment and anti-hair loss products. ValueVision agreed to a proposed consent agreement settling the FTC charges.
On August 24, 2001, the Commission issued the order, which requires ValueVision to have "competent and reliable scientific evidence" substantiating any claim that a food, drug, or dietary supplement "can or will cure, treat, or prevent any disease, or have any effect on the structure or function of the human body."
The latest complaint alleges that ValueVision, through television advertising featuring testimonials for Physician's RX, made claims that the product reduces fatigue associated with taking prescription drugs, such as drugs for heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes; reduces fatigue associated with certain illnesses, including diabetes, lyme disease, sarcoidosis, and cancer; increases energy, stamina, and endurance within a week to 10 days; and relieves arthritis symptoms. The complaint also alleges that ValueVision did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate these claims, thereby violating the 2001 order.