Lotus by Johnny Dung accused of promising miracle treatments to specific ethnic audience
The Lotus by Johnny Dung website is the picture of wholesomeness, showing cherry blossoms, attractive young families, and the founder, Johnny Dung, seated in traditional garb before a peaceful garden pond. Its products boast a standard list of health and diet supplement benefits: toxin cleansing, immune system support and the promotion of overall health.
A class action filed in July by three defendants in the Southern District of California claims that the supplement maker’s efforts to target the Vietnamese community in the United States, with Vietnamese-language advertisements claiming that its products can cure asthma, kill cancer and strengthen the immune system, were false and misleading.
The plaintiffs claim that the company’s Vietnamese-only advertising goes beyond the rather mild claims made by the Lotus website to promise “miraculous results” that are “not substantiated by competent scientific evidence and are factually baseless.”
One product named in the case, “Super Advanced Okinawan Fucoidan Plus 800MG,” is advertised in Vietnamese marketing materials as helping to destroy cancer cells, increasing immune system strength to “900%,” and fighting off the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These claims, and similar claims about other products were made on Vietnamese-language television and in Vietnamese on a YouTube channel, on Facebook, on an e-commerce website and in printed brochures.
The plaintiffs brought false marketing charges under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the California Business and Professions Code, and charges of breach of implied and express warranty under the California Commercial Code.
Approval by the Food and Drug Administration is not required to produce and sell a dietary supplement, but the FDA requires that every health benefit claimed in the product’s marketing be truthful and not misleading. The language in which claims are made does not alter the requirement that claims be substantiated and non-deceptive.