HEALTH

Court upholds Q-Ray decision; company to pay FTC $16 million-plus

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit earlier this month upheld a lower court decision against marketers of the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet which mandated that Q-Ray forfeit $16 million plus interest to the Federal Trade Commission to be distributed to consumers who bought into Q-Ray claims that its bracelets offered therapeutic pain relief.

WIRED Magazine recently put the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet on its list of the top ten Snake-Oil Gadgets,” stated Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook in his opening remarks. “The Federal Trade Commission has an even less honorable title for the bracelet’s promotional campaign: fraud.”

Judge Easterbrook used strong language in criticizing Q-Ray’s pain-relief claims. “For the Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet … all statements about how the product works—Q-Rays, ionization, enhancing the flow of bio-energy, and the like—are blather,” he wrote. “Defendants might as well have said: ‘Beneficent creatures from the 17th Dimension use this bracelet as a beacon to locate people who need pain relief, and whisk them off to their homeworld every night to provide help in ways unknown to our science.’”

According to Easterbrook’s opinion, Q-Ray appealed the lower court ruling because the $16 million judgement—based on estimated company profits provided by FTC—was excessively large. Easterbrook countered that Q-Ray company officials had an opportunity to set the record straight with regard to their profits, but chose not to do so. “Defendants’ business was a profitable one; that much, at least, they concede,” he wrote. “It is so profitable that they continue to carry it on despite the injunction that requires them to stop making most of their old claims for its efficacy. Today it is sold with testimonials and vaporous statements.”

The FTC filed the case in May 2003, alleging that the Illinois-based defendants deceptively advertised their refund policy and made false claims that their bracelet “provided immediate and significant pain relief” in violation of the FTC Act. The federal district court in Chicago ruled in the FTC’s favor September 2006.

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TABS Group examines political leanings of vitamin and supplement users

BY Michael Johnsen

SHELTON, Conn. The marketing and research company TABS Group, on Tuesday released survey results of voting preferences based on purchase behavior of vitamin and nutritional supplements. “These results provide interesting insight into vitamin and supplement users and how their usage patterns can predict and explain voting behavior. The stereotype of the typical user being a hippie, earthy-type just does not hold, as heavy category users skewed significantly more Republican than Democrat,” noted TABS Group president Kurt Jetta.

“Furthermore, the results hold meaningful political, policy and marketing implications for political candidates and supplement manufacturers,” Jetta added. “First, the political parties should consider why heavy users are more likely to support one party in greater numbers than the other particularly with respect to regulatory questions that arise. Second, candidates can gain guidance into media avenues that may be more efficient vehicles to reach their target audience. Conversely, manufacturers should take note of the more conservative political leanings of much of their heavy user base and adjust their media plans accordingly.”

Among the findings:

  • Regular vitamin users are significantly more likely to be Republican than Democrat. 50 percent of Republicans claimed to purchase at least 3 types of supplements versus only 43 percent of Democrats;
  • Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats or Independents of being very heavy users of the category, defined as purchasing at least 6 supplement types (8 percent for Republicans versus 4 percent for Democrats and Independents);
  • Among likely voters in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton had a higher percentage of the preference among regular users versus non-users (44 percent as compared to 40 percent). Conversely, Democratic hopefuls Barack Obama and John Edwards had slightly higher preference among non-users than regular users. The split was 25 percent/23 percent and 14 percent/10 percent, respectively.
  • Among likely voters in the Republican primary, there was a clear difference in preference of non-users versus regular users. Non-users tended to favor the more socially conservative candidates, the TABS Group stated, including Mike Huckabee (22 percent) and Fred Thompson (15 percent). Conversely, the support of regular users dropped substantially: Huckabee with 16 percent and Thompson with 10 percent.

The survey was fielded across three days, Jan. 9 through Jan. 11, polling 1,000 nationally representative households.

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Former CHPA vp Kraushaar joins Triadvocates

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Kevin Kraushaar, former vice president of government relations for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, accepted a position as managing principal of the Washington, D.C., office of Triadvocates, the government relations consulting practice of Quarles & Brady beginning in January, the association stated in a e-newsletter Friday.

“Kevin was highly dedicated to the interests of our member companies, and has a wealth of experience and insight from 14 years on the job here at CHPA,” stated Andy Fish, senior vice president, legal & government affairs and general counsel. “We are grateful for his service to the association and its members and wish him well in his new venture.”

Kraushaar joined CHPA in 1993 as assistant general counsel and director of state government relations. He was named vice president, government relations in 1998.

Prior to CHPA, Kraushaar served as the legislative director to former Michigan Rep. Carl Pursell, who was the ranking Republican on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

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