May 12, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a federal court complaint against a dietary supplement that it says doesn't live up to its advertised claims.

The complaint seeks to prohibit Lunada Biomedical from advertising that their dietary supplement Amberen is clinically proven to cause substantial weight loss for women over 40. Clinical tests, however, failed to show that the supplement is as effective as it claims.

Between 2010 and 2013, Lunada sold almost $65 million worth of Amberen nationwide.

According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants have marketed Amberen nationwide using radio and TV commercials, websites, email, and other promotional materials. In their ads, the defendants touted Amberen capsules, through direct product claims and consumer endorsements, as able to cause significant weight loss and loss of belly fat, and to increase the metabolism of perimenopausal or menopausal women over 40. In many cases, Luada failed to disclose its relationship with the women and bloggers that were endorsing the product.

A clinical trial, though, conducted in 2001 by the Russian scientists who developed the Amberen formula, used a double dose of Amberen and did not specifically measure weight loss; a subsequent clinical study failed to show a statistically significant difference in weight loss between the test and control groups.

The complaint further alleges that customers were told they could try Amberen risk-free for 30 days, but were sent a three month supply. In order to qualify for a refund they had to return two unopened boxes at their own expense within 30 days of placing the order. In many cases customers weren't reimbursed the shipping and handling charges they paid when they first ordered the supplements.