A legal dispute where a dietary supplement manufacturer was sued for making false claims that their product could treat diabetes has been settled.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complained about adverts involving the Nobetes pill – which had been available in the US – and that they were making unsubstantiated health claims.
Marvin Silver and Jeffrey Fleitman, directors of Nobetes Corporation, were accused of mis-selling the product on television, radio, Facebook, and YouTube. The pill contained a combination of vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts.
One of the disputed commercials featured a voiceover asking viewers whether their diabetes was “out of control”. The advert then went on to suggest that that those who were struggling to manage their blood sugar levels should “try the all-natural supplement called Nobetes”, followed by testimonials from people who apparently had diabetes and had reduced their insulin dosage, because they had been taking the herbal remedy.
Another Nobetes advert featured an actor playing the role of expert who stated the pill “helps control blood sugar within normal levels” and contains 35 supplements that can “fill the nutritional shortages that diabetes causes”. He also called it the “miracle product” that people with diabetes had been waiting for.
The FTC claimed the company continued to make “diabetes benefit claims”, despite the US Food and Drug Administration warning them that they needed to ensure reliable and scientific evidence had been gathered to support what their adverts were saying.
The complaint issued to the company also alleged that the sales practices being used were “deceptive” and “unfair” for consumers.
The owners of the company are now prohibited from making “misrepresentations” with regard to “free trial” offers and “negative option” features. The company must also seek “express consent” from consumers before enrolling them into a rolling program. The defendants were ordered to pay $182,000 (£142,827), which may be used to issue refunds to people.
The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
Editor’s note: This story serves as a reminder that while type 2 diabetes can be treated and put into remission, the way it is achieved is important. Eating a healthy, real-food diet and getting regular exercise can result in health improvements. But a ‘miracle pill’ is unlikely to be just that, and any type of advertisement should always be treated with caution.