The Federal Trade Commission settled with Sunrise Neutraceuticals and principal Joshua Erickson over charges that the defendants deceptively marketed a powered drink mix as capable of helping opiate-addicted individuals overcome addiction and withdrawal.
The Elimidrol powder was touted by the defendants as alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal and increasing the chances of overcoming addiction, the agency said. The Florida-based operation used Internet advertising to get opiate-dependent consumers, with unsubstantiated claims that Elimidrol has a "high success rate … in overcoming opiate withdrawal" and "turns up the chances of a successful recovery," to "permanently overcome withdrawal—the first time."
According to the FTC's November 2015 federal court complaint, the defendants marketed the powder mix as "America's #1 scientifically formulated detox supplement that will provide you with the strength and comfort to successfully overcome opiate withdrawal by alleviating the intense mental and physical discomfort during the process."
All of the claims were unsubstantiated, the FTC said, in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The defendants opted to settle.
Pursuant to the deal, the defendants are prohibited from making deceptive claims for any health-related products and must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for efficacy claims for any health-related product.
Specific to opiate-treatment products, the order requires that the defendants have competent and reliable human clinical testing to back up claims for opiate dependence, addiction, or withdrawal. Such testing must also be used to support claims that a product cures, mitigates, or treats any other disease, including claims related to other substance abuse disorders.
Finally, the defendants must pay $235,000 in redress or disgorgement (with the remainder of the almost $1.4 million judgment suspended).
To read the complaint and the stipulated final judgment order in FTC v. Sunrise Neutraceuticals, click here.
Why it matters: "Opiate addiction has taken a tremendous toll on the American public," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement about the case. "By peddling their unproven product, these defendants have prevented people from seeking legitimate treatment." In addition to keeping a close eye on misleading health advertising, the agency noted that the action highlighted its participation in the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level for prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices for Americans at every stage of life.