FTC adds to repeat offender’s rap sheet with disease claims consent decree

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Serggn
©Getty Images - Serggn

Related tags Federal trade commission disease claims Dietary supplement Dietary supplement industry Dietary supplement companies Dietary supplements Ftc Nutrition

The Federal Trade Commission has permanently banned two Texas firms from making diabetes and pain relief claims on the dietary supplements that they market. Kramer Duhon, the firms’ principal, has a long history of fines and enforcement actions against him.

The recent settlement was made public in a case FTC brought against Health Research Laboratories, LLC, Whole Body Supplements LLC and Duhon.

CVD, diabetic neuropathy claims

In this latest action, Duhon and his companies agreed to cease making unsubstantiated claims  that supplements branded as The Ultimate Heart Formula (UHF), BG18, and Black Garlic Botanicals -- prevent or treat cardiovascular and other diseases, and that another supplement branded as Neupathic cures, mitigates, or treats diabetic neuropathy.

“This order banning the respondents from the supplement industry should put an end to their long history of making baseless claims that their products can treat various diseases,” ​said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “People with serious health concerns should rely on their health professionals, not advertisements.”

The agreement came about as part of an administrative complaint that FTC filed in November 2020.  That complaint was filed after the Commission failed in a bid to have Duhon and the companies held in contempt for violating a previous settlement with FTC and the State of Maine.

Duhon paid $800,000 fine in 2018

Duhon had agreed in 2018 to cease making unsubstantiated on several products.  A $3.7 million nominal fine had been levied in the case, and Duhon agreed to pay $800,000 up front​. IN addition to the unsubstantiated disease claims he was making, Duhon and his company  was alleged to have violated provisions of the Telemarketing and Electronic Fund Transfer Acts, in that consumers found it difficult to stop recurring debits from their accounts once they had signed up for deliveries of products, fraudulent ‘risk free’ trial periods as well as other violations.

IN the 2018 FTC/Maine case, Duhon and his company were charged with marketing two of its health products, BioTherapex, a dietary supplement that purportedly targets the liver to address a host of ailments, and NeuroPlus, a brain supplement, using a variety of false and unsupported claims.

Duhon claimed BioTherapex could treat arthritis, relieve joint and back pain, and cause significant weight loss. NeuroPlus was claimed to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, reverse memory loss, and improve memory and cognitive performance.

Past warning letter

The consent decree announced last week is reportedly Duhon third go round with federal regulatory enforcement action connected to dietary supplements that he has marketed. In 2014, the Duhon received a warning letter from FDA that listed 36 separate impermissible claims on a variety of products, one of which was also labeled as BioTherapex.  Among the claims Duhon was making on products at that time were a testimonial that a product had cleared the blockage of a customer’s arteries, the products could “combat the onset of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease,”​ and a product would “dramatically decrease risk of heart attack.”

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