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This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

NATURE'S CLEANSER PROHIBITED FROM MAKING UNSUBSTANTIATED WEIGHT LOSS CLAIMS by the Federal Trade Commission under a proposed settlement announced April 23. FTC's complaint against Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Nature's Cleanser, Inc. asserted that the firm's Nature's Cleanser herbal tablets were "represented as a nonlaxative product to 'cleanse' the bowel and colon and, as a result, promote weight loss," according to an FTC release. These representations, FTC charged, were "false, misleading and unsubstantiated." FTC specifically took issue with ads and promotional materials for Nature's Cleanser as well as "oral communications with consumers" that included statements such as: "Control your weight immediately without dieting or watching calories by eliminating waste such as fatty tissues, cellulite, toxins, mucus, hardened fecal matter and harmful drug residues"; and "Psyllium seed is the bulking agent that causes the sweeping effect, cleaning off the walls, floors and ceiling of the colon, although it is not itself an herbal laxative." Nature's Cleanser, Inc. also was cited by FTC for stating that "if you wish to eliminate at a more rapid rate, more tablets can be taken without ill effect" and for calling fennel "an appetite suppressant." FTC pointed out that Nature's Cleanser "does contain a laxative and, at some dosage levels, can cause some adverse health effects." In addition, Nature's Cleanser "also does not contain an appetite suppressant and is not effective in weight loss and weight control," FTC maintained. The settlement was a result of a joint effort with FDA, which assisted in the investigation by inspecting Nature's Cleanser facilities in the Los Angeles area and by providing the assistance of an agency pharmacognosist, and FTC spokesperson noted. Nature's Cleanser, Inc. also was prevented from making "false, misleading or unsubstantiated" claims about its Lady's Comfort P.M.S./Menopause Formula under the proposed settlement with FTC. The company's objectionable advertising for the menstrual product, according to FTC, included statements such as: "Nature's Cleanser P.M.S./Menopause Formula performs a myriad of functions, one of the most important being alleviating any discomfort associated with menopause (hot flashes)," and that it "prolongs the period between fertility and change of life which should occur between the ages of 60 and 65." Nature's Cleanser, Inc. also made claims that Lady's Comfort "is a natural alternative to the widely applied use of synthetic estrogen and progesterone," FTC said. In addition to preventing Nature's Cleanser, Inc. from making the cited claims, the FTC proposed settlement prohibits the company from "making any claim regarding the performance, benefits, effectiveness, or lack of adverse effects for any food, drug or device unless they possess competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate their claims for drug products." The proposed consent order also contains a provision for consumer redress that would require Nature's Cleanser, Inc. to "notify by mail past purchasers of Nature's Cleanser and Lady's Comfort of the FTC allegations and to offer these customers full refunds. Funds not distributed because consumers fail to respond would have to be paid to the U.S. Treasury," the commission outlined. The proposed settlement is expected to be published for 60-day comment in the Federal Register shortly.

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