Georgia federal Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. ordered Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals Inc. and three of its directors to pay more than $40 million in sanctions and to recall four products the court determined were falsely advertised. The court found that certain print advertisements violated a 2008 court order relating to the advertising and labeling of Hi-Tech’s diet supplements. The court also ordered Hi-Tech to recall Fastin, Lipodrene, Benzedrine, and Stimerex-ES due to their labels, which falsely advertise that the dietary supplements cause substantial weight loss.
One of the defendants in the present case, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals CEO Jared Wheat, was previously sentenced in 2008 to 50 months in prison for illegally selling knockoff prescription drugs over the Internet.
In the present order, the court found that “$40,120,950 in compensatory sanctions is owed to consumers.” The order also held that Hi-Tech had disseminated print advertisements for the drugs Fastin, Lipodrene, Benzedrine, and Stimerex-ES through national magazines and through its website with claims that violated a 2008 injunction. According to the court, these were unsubstantiated weight loss claims for the products that were not supported by competent or reliable scientific evidence.
Interestingly, it is alleged that this marketing campaign, which was featured in USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Day, Redbook, and The National Enquirer, was formulated by Mr. Wheat from prison.
The order also held that Hi-Tech violated the 2008 injunction through its finding that some bottles of drugs did not contain a warning on the product packaging indicating the presence of the ingredient yohimbine.
The case is Federal Trade Commission v. National Urological Group Inc. et al., case no. 1:04-cv-03294, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Tip: When making claims relating to weight loss, be sure to have at least one, if not two, randomized controlled clinical trials that test the exact claim you are seeking to make.