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GNC, Walmart and the Kardashians targeted in QuickTrim lawsuit

By Elaine Watson , 06-Mar-2012
Last updated on 06-Mar-2012 at 16:59 GMT2012-03-06T16:59:40Z

QuickTrim products are endorsed by the Kardashian sisters
QuickTrim products are endorsed by the Kardashian sisters

The makers of the QuickTrim weight loss supplements endorsed by reality TV stars the Kardashians are making false, misleading and unsubstantiated claims about their efficacy, according to a class action lawsuit.

The action, filed in New York last Thursday by plaintiffs representing consumers of QuickTrim products in New York, Florida and California, alleges that QuickTrim’s “caffeine pills are mixed with a variety of herbal ingredients that have never been clinically proven as effective treatments for weight loss or appetite suppression”.

No competent and reliable scientific evidence

It adds: “TheQuickTrim Weight Loss System… is marketed by the defendants as a clinically proven formula that will increase metabolism, curb appetite and promote weight loss… [But] there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting any of these claims.

“Defendants’ marketing and promotion of QuickTrim includes numerous unsubstantiated, false and misleading claims about the products’ efficacy and mechanism of action.”

Caffeine and weight loss

It also notes that the FDA has determined that there are “inadequate data to establish the general recognition of the safety and effectiveness” of caffeine as a weight control ingredient.

However, food law experts pointed out to NutraIngredients-USA that this FDA determination was made in relation to 21 C.F.R. § 310.545 (which covers active ingredients in OTC drugs – not dietary supplements), suggesting that the plaintiffs had misinterpreted regulations pertaining to OTC drugs as applying to dietary supplements.

The defendants are retailers GNC, Walmart, CVS, Amazon.com and Drugstore.com; celebrities Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian-Odom; QuickTrim chief executive Christopher Tisi; QuickTrim LLC (which owns the IP rights to the weight loss system) and Windmill Health Products, which distributes the QuickTrim products.

The lawsuit, filed by the law firm of Bursor & Fisher, seeks damages and a jury trial.

What are the active ingredients in QuickTrim?

 The QuickTrim range includes core products Extreme Burn, Burn & Cleanse and Fast Cleanse, plus more recent additions Hotstix, Celluslim, Sugar & Carb Cheater and Fast Shake.

 Extreme Burn, marketed as “a powerful weight loss formula using proven key ingredients”  that will help ”burn calories, curb cravings, and enhance energy levels”, contains several active ingredients, including OmniActive Health Technologies’ natural capsicum extract Capsimax, caffeine, green tea leaf extract and raspberry ketones.

The QuickTrim website does not refer to any clinical data about the finished products - which are available in 25,000 stores nationwide - but makes frequent reference to “proven key ingredients”.

 Lawyer: Review your label claims

 Attorney Justin Prochnow, shareholder at law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, said he could not comment on the QuickTrim action.

However, he noted that “more and more cases are being filed by plaintiffs’ lawyers that don’t believe claims can be substantiated” on dietary supplements and functional foods, covering everything from failing to meet the conditions of use on a nutrient content claim (good source of fiber) to making unsubstantiated structure/function-type claims.

He added: “Some are just on pretty technical things that previously would just have been the subject of an FDA warning letter.

If I walked into a store and bought 25 supplements and looked for labeling violations there would probably be material for almost as many lawsuits. The message to industry is you must have someone review your claims and labels to make sure they are compliant before you go to market.”

 …And use an efficacious dose

While enterprising attorneys had identified an opportunity to make a fast buck from launching such actions, it was also clear that many firms in the supplements trade were easy targets, particularly in the weight loss field, he acknowledged.

“And it’s not just a question of picking scientifically supported ingredients, but also using efficacious doses. What you often find is that companies are using ingredients that are backed by clinical evidence, but they are not using the same dose used in the studies.”

CRN: Do not make miracle claims and do not overpromise

 Speaking at NutraIngredients-USA’s weight management virtual conference and expo last year, the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s scientific and regulatory affairs vice president Dr Duffy MacKay said:

We all know that there are incredible ingredients out there that can help, as part of a healthy diet as well as exercise, but there are no magic bullets.

“I’m going to ask responsible advertisers once again, do not make miracle claims and do not overpromise. If your company decides to market weight loss products aggressively, one of my colleagues that is a lawyer in this environment always says, don’t be the lowest hanging fruit for enforcement action because you will be picked.”

GNC said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Windmill Health Products did not respond to requests for comment.

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