Another FTC HCG Weight Loss Product Crackdown

illustration of body builder to repesent FTC suing weight loss product for bad marketingLast week, the Federal Trade Commission initiated proceedings, in Arizona, against Kevin Wright, president of HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition. The FTC isn’t happy that Wright is still pushing his hCG products as weight loss miracle cures – especially since the consumer watchdog commission sent Wright a warning letter last year about his questionable marketing materials.

First Things First: What The Heck Is hCG?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced by the placenta and other types of cancers. When used in certain ways, hCG can result in various desirable side effects, like weight loss. On the flip side, it is also a performance enhancing “drug” used by Major League Baseball players.

How Much hCG Did Wright Sell?

There is no doubt about it, Wright is a good at what he does. The hCG salesman offloaded  a whopping $13 million worth of product in 2010. Where did he sell his goods? Facebook, YouTube and via various online retailers and affiliate marketers. He also made it into Rite-Aid, Walgreens and GNC.

The FTC Sent A Warning Letter First, Which Wright Apparently Ignored

Why Aren’t The Retail Stores Listed As Defendants?

You may be wondering: why aren’t the retail stores that carried the product listed as defendants? In most cases, retail stores are not liable for product deficiencies. As a GNC spokesperson explained when interviewed about the Wright case, “[GNC] relies on the vendor to ensure ‘that the products are safe and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.’”

This lawsuit should not come as a shock to Kevin Wright, though. According to reports, the FTC sent him a warning letter last year. In it, the commission reminded the hCG salesman that it had banned the sale of homeopathic hCG products and warned Wright that he was violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In essence, the FTC gave him a chance to fix his marketing materials, but he chose not to pay heed.

Why Did Wright’s Weight Loss Marketing Material Get Him Into Legal Trouble?

Wright’s marketing materials, some of which featured Carmen Electra, were chock full of promises consumers love to hear, like “rapid and substantial weight loss.” For example, a testimonial on one website reads, “I don’t really like to exercise, it’s hard to get it in when I am a stay at home mom…I did GCG and lost 10 to 15 pounds in 30 days.”

According to HCG Platinum products’ instructions, all weight loss hopefuls had to do was “take a few drops before meals” to lose 1 to 2 pounds a day “for multiple weeks.” The products also included another set of crucial instructions: it works best if you stick to a 500 to 800 calorie a day diet. (Hmmmmm, wonder if the low calorie recommended has anything to do with the weight loss.)

And the last nail in Wright’s coffin? Some ads also contained a few unsubstantiated scientific claims.

Speak With An FTC Compliance Attorney

Need a business lawyer with a whole lot of FTC experience? Contact Aaron Kelly, founding partner of the Kelly Warner law firm. He works primarily with tech and online companies and has vast experience with online marketing law. He’s helped others out of jams with the FTC and can do the same for you.

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