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More high fines for deceptive supplement marketing

By staff reporter , 28-Aug-2009

The marketers of two dietary supplement products have been ordered to pay almost $70m for misleadingly selling products that claimed to cure a range of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

The federal district court ruling followed charges by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – the nation’s ad police – that the Supreme Greens and Coral Calcium products were deceptively marketed.

Donald W. Barrett – described as an “infomercial pitchman” – and his affiliates had “deceptively touted” the supplement Supreme Greens to treat, cure, or prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, said FTC. Coral Calcium deceptively claimed it could treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases.

‘Safe for children’

Other charges included claims that the products could be safely taken by children, pregnant women and people on medication.

The US District Court for the District of Massachusetts froze the assets of Barrett, his associate Robert Maihos, and two companies they control – Direct Marketing Concepts and ITV Direct, and also ordered them to pay $48.2m for consumer refunds.

Three other defendants charged by FTC for deceptive marketing of these products (Allen Stern and two companies he controls - King Media and Triad ML Marketing). They were ordered to pay $20.4m for consumer refunds.

All defendants were also barred from making deceptive claims in the future.

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