FTC wins $40 million judgment against diet aid manufacturers
ATLANTA — A federal district judge here has issued an order finding several defendants in contempt for violating previous court orders related to the sale of weight-loss dietary supplements. The order imposes a more than $40 million judgment against the defendants, part or all of which the Federal Trade Commission may use to provide refunds to consumers who bought the products.
In imposing the monetary sanctions, the court noted that, “The defendants very clearly exhibited a pattern of contemptuous conduct since these proceedings began. [They] dispensed deception to those with the greatest need to believe it, and – not surprisingly – generated a handsome profit for their efforts.”
According to the court, the defendants, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, marketed their dietary supplement diet aids with claims including “rapid fat loss,” “fat burner,” “extreme weight loss guaranteed” and “curbs the appetite,” in violation of a 2008 order.
The FTC’s case against the defendants began in November 2004, when it filed a complaint charging them with making deceptive claims about the efficacy and safety of “Thermalean” and “Lipodrene,” weight-loss products containing the since-banned ingredient ephedra.
In December 2008, a federal district court found in favor of the FTC and ordered the defendants to pay $15.8 million, which the FTC has used to provide redress to injured consumers. The court’s final order also permanently barred the defendants from claiming that their products cause rapid or substantial weight- or fat loss, or affect body fat, appetite, or metabolism unless the claims are true and supported by scientific evidence.
In November 2011, the FTC sought sanctions against Hi-Tech for violating the 2008 final order. The FTC alleged that, beginning in 2009, these defendants made prohibited weight-loss claims for four dietary supplements – Fastin, Lipodrene, Benzedrine and Stimerex-ES – without substantiating those claims. After the defendants appealed a previous ruling by the district court, the case proceeded to trial in the spring of 2017, resulting in the order in favor of the FTC announced Monday.
Tylenol, new products impact pain
NEW YORK — Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare division has rebounded with the return of several product lines, including products under the powerhouse brand Tylenol, which had seen sales and market share erode in the wake of recalls in 2010.
“The big story from the marketing side is that Tylenol has resumed full distribution and marketing in the last couple of years,” said Laura Mahecha, industry manager healthcare practice at consulting firm Kline & Co. “They spend a ton in terms of marketing, promotions and advertising, so that’s a boost for the category overall.”
Johnson & Johnson also has introduced new forms of Children’s Tylenol, including a chewable form for older children, such new flavors as bubblegum and strawberry, and dye-free options to meet the needs of children who are sensitive to dyes or of parents who prefer dye-free options.
Multi-outlet sales of internal analgesics rose 0.59% for the 52-week period ended Aug. 13, to about $3.9 billion, according to IRI. Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare division, however, outpaced the pack with dollar sales gains of 9.8% in internal analgesic liquids to a category-leading $251.9 million, and sales gains of 11.1% in internal analgesic tablets to $496.78 million.
New product launches and marketing campaigns also are bringing some excitement to the category. Prestige Brands, for example, has rolled out BC Sinus Congestion & Pain — the company’s first foray into analgesic cough-cold treatments — just in time for cold and flu season.
“We have a pretty robust approach to support this initiative,” said Joseph Juliano, VP of marketing for analgesics, eye care and marketing services at Prestige Brands. “We are advertising to loyal powdered-analgesic users who are looking for a solution to their cough-cold symptoms.”
Prestige also introduced Ecotrin Arthritis, an extension of its aspirin line of OTC analgesics.
Topical analgesics sales up 19.1%
Sales of topical analgesics, although small compared with sales of internal analgesic products, have been a bright spot for the category overall.
External analgesic rubs saw dollar sales grow 19.1% in the 52-week period ended Aug. 13, to $696.1 million. While Chattem’s Icy Hot and Aspercreme products are category leaders that showed double-digit sales growth, other external analgesics lines have experienced triple-digit growth, including Biofreeze from Performance Health and Lidocare from NFI Consumer Products.
Some of the product introductions provide innovations that specifically address the needs of aging baby boomers. These products include Vizuri’s PainBloc 24, an odorless roll-on analgesic designed to provide arthritis pain relief for 24 hours.
Sales of topical analgesics may be benefitting in part from consumer concerns about certain medication ingredients, particularly in the wake of warnings about the potential for liver damage from the mis-use of acetaminophen, said Mahecha of Kline & Co.
That attitude also could propel sales of pain-relief devices, such as the TENS devices from Icy Hot and Aleve, Mahecha said.
Need for fiber supplements booms
NEW YORK — As many as 16% of those Americans who take supplements actively take a fiber supplement, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition 2016 Annual Survey on Dietary Supplements. And usage skews younger — 21% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years old who supplement take fiber, compared to 9% of adults over the age of 55 years who take a supplement.
That means there may be an opportunity to entice more seniors to take a fiber supplement. A 2014 Frost & Sullivan report on the healthcare-cost savings associated with supplementing determined that if U.S. adults over the age of 55 years old with elevated cholesterol took a specific amount of psyllium dietary fiber supplements, it could lead to cumulative healthcare savings of $19.9 billion — between 2013 to 2020 — by reducing CHD disease-related medical events by 11.5%.
“The need for fiber is only growing,” said Lou Machin, managing director at Lifelab Health. “Consumers of all ages are not getting the recommended amount from diet alone, so supplementation — if it’s made easy to take — is key.”
According to Lifelab consumer research, there are several “must haves” when it comes to fiber supplements. Consumers want a fiber supplement that’s easy to mix, not gritty or chunky, palatable, includes an option for either flavored or not flavored, odorless and quick to take.
“Seniors have multiple health issues and are concerned that the products they take are not adding any chemicals or GMO and gluten to their diets,” Machin said. “They already take medicines for various health issues, so the last thing they want to add is a fiber product that isn’t as natural as possible.”
Lifelab Health’s NuSyllium
Lifelab Health in August introduced NuSyllium. NuSyllium’s 100% certified organic fiber blend is free of artificial additives, GMOs, gluten, dairy, tree nut and peanut, and has zero trans fat. NuSyllium Organic Natural Fiber promotes digestive health and regularity, including occasional constipation; helps lower cholesterol levels and promotes heart health; helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and supports weight management by helping to feel full between meals.