Medifast Subsidiary to Pay $3.7 Million in FTC Settlement
Jason Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Medifast Inc., has agreed to pay a $3.7 million civil penalty to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that it made unsupported claims about its weight loss program in violation of a 1992 FTC settlement order. The 1992 order barred Jason Pharmaceuticals from making unsupported claims regarding user’s success in losing weight or maintaining weight control using its products.
Jason Pharmaceuticals sells Medifast-brand low-calorie meal substitutes. The FTC complaint alleges that since at least November 2009 the company had been using unsupported claims in radio and print advertising that Medifast programs and products would result in weight loss of two to five pounds each week. They complaint also alleged that the company represented the experience of the consumers featured in the ads as typical, and that users would lose more than 30 pounds using the program.
The new settlement prohibits Jason Pharmaceuticals from misrepresenting that consumers who use any low-calorie meal replacement program can expect to achieve the same results as an endorser, lose a particular amount of weight, or maintain the weight loss. Any representations must be backed by reliable scientific evidence that consists of at least one well-controlled human clinical study of the low-calorie meal replacement program.
Jason Pharmaceuticals also is prohibited from making any other representation about the health benefits, safety, or side effects of any low-calorie meal replacement program, unless the representation is non-misleading and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence that is generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate results.
The company also is prohibited from making any other unsupported representation about the health benefits, safety, or side effects of any low-calorie meal replacement program, and from misrepresenting that any doctor, health professional, or endorser recommends a weight-loss product, program, service, drug, or dietary supplement.