Supplement Company to Pay $2.2 Million for False Diabetes Treatment Claims

The Wellness Support Network, Inc., a supplement company, and its two principals, Robert Held and his daughter Robyn Held (owners) will pay nearly $2.2 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as ordered by the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California after the court found that that owners engaged in false advertising and deceptive practices for treating and preventing diabetes in violation of Sections  5(a) (15 U.S.C. sec. 45(a)) and 12 (15 U.S.C. 52(a)(2)) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). The court order also prohibited the company and owners from claiming without rigorous scientific proof that their supplements would treat and prevent diabetes and from making other deceptive claims, according to an FTC press release. The FTC will use the funds it recovers to reimburse consumers. 

The Court’s Holding

The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California granted the FTC’s request for summary judgment against the owners and the company concluding that the owners of the company that sold the Diabetic Pack and the Insulin Resistance Pack were liable for the claims made on the company’s website and in the advertising and marketing materials for those products, in part, because the owners created the advertising and marketing materials used to promote and sell those products. According to the FTC press release, the owners advertised primarily online, relying heavily on consumer testimonials and running ads that claimed a “Diabetes Breakthrough” and a “clinically proven natural solution to diabetes with a 90% success rate.” The products were sold for $76.70 for a 30-supply supply.

The court specifically found that the following claims to be false or unsupported by scientific evidence: “Diabetic Pack is an effective treatment for diabetes, is proven as an effective treatment for diabetes, reduces or eliminates the need for insulin and other diabetic medications, and is proven to cause an average drop in blood glucose levels of 31.9 percent;” and “Insulin Resistance Pack reverses and manages insulin resistance, is proven to be an effective treatment for insulin resistance, prevents diabetes, and is proven to cause an average drop in blood glucose levels of 31.9 percent.”

The court found that the claims were misleading consumers who purchased the products giving the impression that the Diabetic pack was an effective treatment for diabetes because they lacked a reasonable basis on which they were founded. The claims needed to be substantiated by human clinical studies that had the following requirements: controlled, randomized, double-blind, and statistically meaningful; however, no studies with these requirements existed for either of the products, the court said. In addition, the court found that the studies referenced by Wellness in its advertising were flawed because the studies did not test the two products at issue. Finally, the court concluded that the advertising claims were material because they involve issues of health, safety, and other issues that would concern reasonable consumers.

The FTC press release noted that “the case against Wellness Support Network, Inc. is part of its ongoing efforts to stop bogus claims that unproven remedies can be used to prevent and treat serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer.”