A weight-loss company that was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 1992 to cease from “making certain representations about the efficacy of its weight loss products, programs, or services without sufficient scientific substantiation,” has agreed to settle claims that it has since violated that order. United States v. Jason Pharms., Inc., No. 1:12-cv-01476 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.D.C., filed September 7, 2012). The company has not admitted or denied any of FTC’s allegations concerning its Medifast low-calorie meal substitute products and services, which are available online, from health coaches or through physicians who carry the company’s products.
If approved by the court, the agreement requires the company to pay a $3.7-million civil penalty and to stop claiming in product advertising that people can generally expect to achieve certain results, including the loss of a particular amount of weight, by using the company’s Medifast program, unless the company has “competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates that the representation is true.” The company would also be enjoined from making any health or safety representations about the program in the absence of scientific evidence and may not misrepresent that doctors recommend its products, programs, services, drugs, or dietary supplements. According to the Commission, the company represented that the experiences of the people endorsing its program in its advertisements were typical and that consumers would lose more than 30 pounds, or up to two to five pounds each week. See FTC News Release, September 10, 2012.