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Hoodia Defendants to Turn Over Assets, Two Banned from Marketing Supplements

The FTC’s charges against three people and two companies charged with deceptive advertising of hoodia as a weight loss has resulted in a settlement where one defendant is banned from making any weight-loss claims related to foods, drugs, or dietary supplements and must turn over a vacation home and other assets to the FTC; another is banned from the dietary supplement business altogether; and all defendants are barred from making any more deceptive claims.

The FTC’s 2009 complaint alleged that the defendants made false and deceptive claims about hoodia and its effectiveness as a treatment for obesity, and falsely claimed that their ingredient was hoodia when it was not. The complaint also alleged that they falsely and deceptively claimed their product was, among other things, scientifically proven to suppress appetite, resulting in weight loss and was clinically proven to reduce caloric intake by 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day.

  • David J. Romeo, and two companies he controlled, Nutraceuticals International LLC and Stella Labs LLC, are banned from making any weight-loss claims while marketing foods, drugs, and dietary supplements. The settlement imposes a $22.5 million judgment against Romeo and the two companies, which will be suspended when Romeo forfeits his vacation home in Vermont, and assigns to the FTC the right to collect on $635,000 in business loans owed to him. If it is later determined that the financial information Romeo gave the FTC was false, the full amount of the judgment will become due.
  • Nutraceuticals International principal Craig Payton is banned from marketing any foods, drugs, or dietary supplements.
  • Nutraceuticals International marketing executive Deborah B. Vickery is required to pay a $4 million judgment, which has been suspended due to her inability to pay..
  • All five defendants are prohibited from making any false or unsupported claims about foods, drugs, or dietary supplements, and from helping others to make these claims. They also are barred from misrepresenting the results of any scientific study.

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