The Federal Trade Commission has charged marketers of Supreme Greens with MSM and Coral Calcium Daily with falsely claiming that their products can prevent and cure cancer and other diseases. The supplements have been sold through two widely-aired infomercials.
The Supreme Greens infomercial promotes the supplement as a means to treat, cure, and prevent cancer and other diseases, and to cause significant weight loss, as well as being a safe for consumption by all, including pregnant women and persons on medication, the FTC charged. The Coral Calcium Daily infomercial touts the supplement as a means to treat and cure cancer and other diseases and as a superior form of calcium based on its purported bioavailability.
In its complaint, the FTC also charges that the infomercial presents itself as an independent television program rather than a paid program-length commercial. Also, the promoters are accused of charging consumers credit cards for automatic product shipments without authorization.
The FTC is seeking a temporary restraining order against the marketers of Supreme Greens, and is seeking permanent injunctive relief, including redress to consumers who purchased the products, against the marketers of both products.
According to the FTC, the promoters began marketing Supreme Greens in August 2003 through a nationally disseminated infomercial featuring Donald Barrett and Alejandro Guerrero. The infomercial promoted Supreme Greens as an effective treatment to cure or prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
The FTC also alleges that the defendants claimed Supreme Greens will cause significant weight loss of up to four pounds a week and up to 80 pounds in eight months, and that the product is safe for everyone, including pregnant women, children, and persons on medication.
The FTC has asked the court to enter a temporary restraining order against the Supreme Greens defendants to prohibit them from making the challenged claims. The Commission also has asked the court to freeze the assets of the promoters and to appoint a temporary receiver.
Coral Calcium Daily
The FTCs complaint also alleges that the promoters marketed Coral Calcium Daily to consumers throughout the United States beginning in 2002. Coral Calcium Daily is a dietary supplement that purportedly contains a form of calcium derived from marine coral.
According to the FTC, the defendants promoted the product through a nationally televised infomercial featuring Kevin Trudeau and Robert Barefoot, whom the FTC sued in June 2003 in connection with an infomercial promoting another coral calcium product.
The Coral Calcium Daily infomercial aired on national cable networks such as PAX Television, Womens Entertainment, and the Food Network. The defendants also advertised in free-standing newspaper inserts, and sold the product through retail outlets such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.
According to the FTC, the defendants promoted Coral Calcium Daily as an effective means to prevent, treat, and cure cancer, heart disease, and various degenerative and autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Parkinsons disease.
In addition, the FTC alleges that the defendants had no basis for their claims that Coral Calcium Daily was superior to other calcium supplements in terms of the amount of calcium absorbed by the body and the speed of that absorption, and that the defendants had no basis for claiming that scientific research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine proves that calcium supplements are able to prevent, reverse, or cure cancer in humans.
The FTC alleges that the defendants health benefit and superior bioavailability claims for Coral Calcium Daily are false and/or unsubstantiated.
In a related action, on April 19, 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the promoters, stating that labeling for the firms dietary supplement product Supreme Greens with MSM, including a brochure and customer letter included when the product was ordered caused the product to be out of compliance with the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The brochure and letter contained unsubstantiated claims about the products benefits such as [n]atural weight loss, balance the bodys pH, and neutralize acidity...heartburn, acid-reflux.
In addition, disease claims were made on the firms website. For example, the product claimed it helped thousands of people with cancer, diabetes, arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome.... The claims cause the product to be an unapproved new drug. Subsequently, a response from the firms attorneys stated that they intend to remove all the violative claims.
Defendants include Boston-area marketers Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc., ITV Direct, Inc. and Donald Barrett, along with their business partners, California corporations Healthy Solutions, LLC and Health Solutions, Inc., and their principals Alejandro Guerrero (a.k.a. Alex Guerrero), Michael Howell, and Greg Geremesz; and Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Triad ML Marketing, Inc., King Media, Inc., and Allen Stern.