Unither Pharma and United Therapeutics Corporation have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they made deceptive claims in advertising for their HeartBar product, reported the FTC.
The Silver Spring, Maryland-based companies claimed that HeartBar - a chewy food bar and powder containing the amino acid L-Arginine - reduces the risk of developing heart disease, reverses damage to the heart, reduces or eliminates heart disease patients' need for surgery and medications, and substantially decreases leg pain in people with cardiovascular disease. All claims were deceptive because they were not supported by scientific evidence, alleges the FTC.
The settlement bans the companies from repeating similar claims for HeartBar and other L-Arginine products unless they have adequate scientific support. It also bars them from making any unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy of any food, medical food, or dietary supplement used in or marketed for the treatment, cure, or prevention of cardiovascular disease, said FTC.
The agreement includes the HeartBar, HeartBar Plus, and HeartBar Sport products, advertised on the websites cookepharma.com and unither.com, and in print media, such as Reader's Digest, Modern Maturity, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Chicago Sun-Times, since 1999.
The companies were also charged with falsely claiming that scientific studies prove that HeartBar decreases angina pain by 70 per cent and leg pain by 66 per cent, and reverses the effects of high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and estrogen deficiency on the heart.
The respondents are to contact all of their distributors and sellers and request that they immediately stop using any false or deceptive advertisements for HeartBar, and that they notify the Commission of any distributors who continue to make claims that the order prohibits.
The proposed consent agreement, to be published in the Federal Register and made subject to public comment until July 14, 2003, also contains standard record-keeping requirements to allow the FTC to monitor the respondents' compliance with the order.