A company may have a pretty good idea that its product will help its customers lose weight, but it had best not say so in an advertisement unless it has clinical proof. For Medifast, it amounts to a $3.7M lesson.
The company behind Medifast, Jason Pharmaceuticals, said its low-cal meal substitutes could help users lose from two to five pounds weekly, and it said it on television and radio, in print and on the internet, dating back to at least November of 2009.
The FTC provided a typical advertisement script:
“Why Medifast? Three great reasons.
Cynthia Lujan lost 73 lbs on Medifast! Cindy Daniels lost 43 lbs on Medifast!
Jennifer Lilley lost 70 lbs on Medifast!
You can lose up to 2 to 5 pounds per week on Medifast.”
The FTC said the settlement with the company will prevent it from making statements like that. It stated, “Such representations must be non-misleading and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence that consists of at least one adequate and well-controlled human clinical study of the low-calorie meal replacement program, or a study that follows a protocol detailed in the settlement order.”
FTC added, “The company also is prohibited from misrepresenting that any doctor, health professional, or endorser recommends a weight-loss product, program, service, drug, or dietary supplement.”