Marketer Medifast Inc. Settle FTC Charges

Medifast Inc., a diet plan marketer will pay a $3.7 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission civil penalty charges that it violated a previous order by making unsupported claims about its weight-loss program.

Jason Pharmaceuticals, Inc.Medifast unit has settled FTC charges that they violated a 1992 FTC settlement order, which prevented them from making any unsupported claims about users’ success in achieving or maintaining weight loss or weight control. This is part of the FTC’s ongoing measure to ascertain that companies comply with FTC’s crackdown on its deceptive and misleading health claims. FTC requires companies liable for civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation of an FTC order per day.

Jason Pharmaceuticals advertised that Medifast “5 and 1” plan consists of 800-1,000 calories per day. Filed by FTC’on behalf of the Department of Justice, the complaint against Jason Pharmaceuticals alleges that the company made unsupported representations since November 2009 in the radio, television, Internet, and print advertisements that users of Medifast products would lose two to five pounds each week.

According to the complaint the company also represented testimonials of consumer endorsers featured in the advertisements that they lost more than 30 pounds.

The new settlement order prohibited Jason Pharmaceuticals from misrepresenting that consumers who taking low-calorie meal replacement program, like the Medifast “5 and 1” plan will achieve the same results the same as the endorser or can lose a particular amount of weight or maintain the same weight loss. Representations are allowed if it is non-misleading and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence consisting of at least one adequate and well-controlled human clinical study of the low-calorie meal replacement program, or a-it must be a study following a protocol detailed in the settlement order.

The settlement order prohibits the company from making any other representation claiming the health benefits, safety, or side effects of any low-calorie meal replacement program. It allows only , non-misleading representation supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence that is generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate results.

FDA advises consumers to carefully evaluate all advertising claims for weight loss. The Commission authorized the filing of a complaint when it has reason to believe that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is of public interest. The complaint did not find or rule that the defendant has actually violated the law. This consent decree was merely a settlement for purposes only and does not mean that the defendant has violated a law. Consent decrees has similar force as a law when signed by the District Court judge.

The purpose of the Federal Trade Commission was to prevent consumers from being victims of fraudulent deception and unfair business practices by providing information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. Complaint can be filed either in English or Spanish You can visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

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