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FTC Charges Against Hoodia Suppliers Settled

According to a complaint issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009, suppliers of the popular dietary supplement Hoodia marketed their product with deceptive advertising. Subsequently, the FTC filed charges against two firms and their directors for involvement in the proposed scandal. Charges brought against the defendants alleged that they deliberately misled consumers by claiming their product was derived from Hoodia gordonii, a succulent of the South African plains. Litigation also suggested that the defendants made false and deceptive claims about the effectiveness of Hoodia. As a part of their ongoing effort to stop bogus health claims, the FTC was finally able to settle the case against both firms on November 3, 2011.

Hoodia is a dietary supplement intended to suppress poor eating habits. Though there is not much in terms of scientific literature that may prove Hoodia actually suppresses appetite, millions of Americans have taken the supplement in hopes of loosing weight. Widely sold over the internet and in health food and discount stores across the nation, Hoodia is typically offered in capsules or tablets, but is also available in milk chocolate chews. A 30-day supply often costs $35 and up.

In an attempt to expand profit margins, Delaware-based Nutraceuticals International, LLC and New Jersey-based Stella Labs, LLC falsified claims about their product. By claiming that Hoodia was imported from the plains of South Africa, consumers believed they were buying the same succulent that the San people of the Kalahari desert used to stave off hunger. Subsequently, these suppliers also exaggerated the effectiveness of Hoodia.

However, the FTC charged suppliers of the supposed Hoodia derivative in 2009 with deceptive advertising. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the defendants not only made false and deceptive claims about what hoodia is capable of, but claimed that their product was Hoodia gordonii, a plant native to southern Africa, which it was not.

TheFTC complaint further alleged that the firms provided trade customers with deceptive advertising and promotional materials, along with other materials that purported to substantiate their claims. These customers then had the means to deceive consumers who bought weight-loss products purportedly containing hoodia.

According to the FTC complaint, defendants made the following false and deceptive claims about their product: that it would enable consumers to lose weight and suppress appetites; that it was scientifically proven to suppress appetite, resulting in weight loss; that it was clinically proven to reduce caloric intake by 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day; that it was derived from South African Hoodia gordonii; and that hoodia was an effective treatment for obesity.

Thos involved in the complaint were Delaware-based Nutraceuticals International, LLC, New Jersey-based Stella Labs, LLC, and four individuals as liable for these charges. The individual defendants are David J. Romeo, whom the complaint identifies as controlling both companies; and Deborah B. Vickery, Craig Payton, and Zoltan Klivinyi. Each of whom were either an officer or director of one of these companies.

The settlement reached this month, further prevents Nutraceuticals International and Stella Labs from making any further weight-loss claims about future dietary supplements. Romeo, and his controlling companies, were fined $22.5 million for their involvement in the scandal. Multimillion dollar charges were leveled against the other participants as well.

Do I Have a Hoodia Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in Hoodia lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

Again, if you or a loved one has been injured by Hoodia, you should contact our lawyers immediately by clicking the link below or calling toll free 1-800-773-0849. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help.

Categories: Product Liability
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