Kevin Trudeau, Makers of Lipodrene in FTC Crosshairs
The FTC’s been busy. For starters, Kevin Trudeau, author of “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” recently had his original, $5 million dollar fine for civil contempt upgraded to $37,616,161 – the amount of money consumers paid in response to his infomercials.
Urged by both the FTC and Trudeau to reconsider aspects of its August order, on November 4 Judge Gettleman amended the judgment to $37,616,161, the amount consumers paid in response to the deceptive infomercials. The judge also revised the three-year ban to prohibit Trudeau from “disseminating or assisting others in disseminating” any infomercial for any informational publication in which he has an interest. On December 11, the court denied Trudeau’s request to reconsider or stay this ruling.
The FTC filed its first lawsuit against Trudeau in 1998, charging him with making false and misleading claims in infomercials for products he claimed could cause significant weight loss and cure addictions to heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes, as well as enable users to achieve a photographic memory. A stipulated court order resolving that case barred Trudeau from making false claims for products in the future, ordered him to pay $500,000 in consumer redress, and established a $500,000 performance bond to ensure compliance.
In 2003, the Commission charged Trudeau with violating the 1998 order by falsely claiming in infomercials that a product, Coral Calcium Supreme, could cure cancer. The court subsequently entered a preliminary injunction that ordered him not to make such claims. When Trudeau continued to make cancer-cure claims about Coral Calcium, he was found in contempt. In 2004, Trudeau agreed to an order that resolved the Coral Calcium matter. He was directed to pay $2 million in consumer redress and banned from infomercials, except for informational publications such as books, provided that he “must not misrepresent the content” of those publications. The 2004 injunction remains in effect.
Next up, the makers of Thermalean, Lipodrene and Spontane-ES were hit with a $15.8 million fine for deceptive advertisements. The defendants, National Urological Group, Inc., Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc., National Institute for Clinical Weight Loss, Inc., Jared Wheat, Stephen Smith, and Thomasz Holda made claims that the supps were “clinically proven,” to be safe and effective.
Thermalean and Lipodrene are purported weight loss treatments. According to the defendants’ advertisements, they were clinically proven to cause substantial weight loss, including a 19 percent loss in total body weight. Spontane-ES is a purported treatment for erectile dysfunction. According to the defendants’ advertisements, it was clinically proven to safely and effectively treat 90 percent of men with erectile dysfunction. The court permanently barred the defendants (except now-dissolved National Institute for Clinical Weight Loss) from engaging in deceptive conduct in the future and also ordered Terrill Mark Wright, M.D., to pay $15,454 for his deceptive endorsement of Thermalean.
“These defendants are old-fashioned snake oil salesmen who retooled their pitches to cash in on 21st century concerns,” said Lydia B. Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They led people to believe that the supplements they sold to treat weight loss and erectile dysfunction were safe and effective treatments, when nothing could be further from the truth.”
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch…more like this, please!