FTC said it is distributing almost $400,000 to consumers who bought Hepaxa and Hepaxa PD, two fish oil supplements manufactured by BASF that debuted on the US market in 2018 and later were introduced in Europe.
Hepaxa is a highly concentrated form of fish oil, delivering 460 mg of EPA and 380 mg of DHA omega-3 fatty acids per serving. The products debuted in the US in 2018 and were on the market a year later in Europe. Both were marketed as products that could “help tens of millions of patients manage Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” The PD product was aimed at children.
The payouts are part of a consent decree that settled a case FTC brought against parent company BASF SE, its North American arm, and DIEM Labs, which the complaint said had entered into a marketing relationship with BASF. The suit was settled in June 2021.
BASF said it based on the claims on research published in the journal Nutrients in 2018. FTC disagreed that that represented adequate substantiation even thought the study extended over 24 weeks and included more than 170 subjects.
According to the FTC’s April 2021 complaint, BASF paid DIEM Labs to advertise and distribute both supplements in the United States. The FTC alleged that until mid-2020 these companies deceptively advertised Hepaxa and Hepaxa PD as clinically proven to reduce liver fat in adults and children with NAFLD.
The orders settling the Commission’s charges banned the companies from making unproven health claims about Hepaxa or similar products and required them to pay money to provide refunds.
FTC said checks averaging $219 each will be mailed to more than 1,800 consumers.