The Federal Trade Commission has charged California-based marketers of the Balance Bracelet, a purported pain relief product, with making false and unsubstantiated claims.

In its complaint filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, the FTC alleges that Media Maverick, Inc. of San Luis Obispo violated the FTC Act by deceptively claiming that the Balance Bracelet is a fast-acting, effective treatment for many types of pain.

According to the FTC, clinical testing has found that ionized bracelets, such as the Balance Bracelet, are no more effective at relieving muscular and joint pain than placebo (non-ionized) bracelets. The FTC is seeking permanent injunctive relief, including redress to consumers who purchased the Balance Bracelet.

The Balance Bracelet is a C-shaped metal bracelet that is allegedly electro-polarized by an undisclosed process. The defendants promoted the bracelet through nationally disseminated 30-minute infomercials and on the Internet at www.balancebraceletusa.com. Their advertisements allegedly claimed that the Balance Bracelet relieves arthritis pain, joint pain, back pain, and injury-related pain, among other things.

The defendants advertisements also allegedly claimed that pain is caused by excess static electricity in the body, which purportedly comes from an imbalance of positive and negative energy, and that the Balance Bracelet returns the body to its natural ionic balance. The Balance Bracelet sells for $79.90, plus shipping and handling.

In May 2003, the FTC charged the marketers of a similar product, the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet, with making false and unsubstantiated pain-relief claims as well as failing to honor their advertised money-back guarantee. The defendants in the Q-Ray case entered into a stipulated preliminary injunction halting the pain-relief claims for the product. That case currently is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.