The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a deal with a company and its CEO over false and unsupported claims that its products could help patients with the side effects of cancer.
In a complaint filed in Florida federal court, the agency asserted that CellMark Biopharma LLC and Derek E. Vest ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission Act between January 2016 and January 2017 when they deceptively advertised their CellAssure and Cognify products. Ads for CellAssure included claims that the product was a medical breakthrough solution with “anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties” and that it “specifically addresses the malnutrition suffered by over 80% of all cancer patients” and had been “clinically proven” to provide the advertised benefits.
As for Cognify, the defendants touted it as “the world’s first product designed specifically to alleviate … chemo fog,” a treatment-related cognitive dysfunction. The “clinically proven” product would also “protect brain cells/neuro-transmitters against toxins,” “improve cognitive functioning, memory, and processing,” and “stimulate the growth of new brain cells” in chemo patients.
The defendants charged consumers $248 and $79 for a one-month supply of CellAssure and Cognify, respectively, although they lacked scientific evidence to back any of the claimed benefits.
To settle the charges, the proposed final stipulated order bars the defendants from engaging in similar conduct in the future and requires them to provide competent and reliable scientific evidence to support any health claims for any product. In addition, the defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting the results of any study, test or scientific research.
To read the complaint and stipulated order in FTC v. CellMark Biopharma LLC, click here.
Why it matters: The settlement serves as a reminder that the FTC remains vigilant with regard to dietary supplement claims. The defendants face a host of requirements pursuant to the stipulated order, from a prohibition on misrepresentations about tests, studies or research to the need for competent and reliable scientific evidence to support health claims in the future.