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FTC strikes down oral spray maker's strategy

/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal court has temporarily blocked marketers of an oral spray from making claims that the products contain growth hormones and can preserve youth, the government said Tuesday.

The Federal Trade Commission said that Pacific Herbal Sciences, Natural Health Product and New Star Marketing Group, all of California, have been barred from marketing "HGH Revolution" and "Natural Rejuvenator HGH-R" — which don't actually contain human growth hormone, or HGH.

The Oct. 6 temporary restraining order by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California also bars the companies and their directors from using deceptive e-mail, or spam, to advertise those products.

The FTC charged that the companies used e-mail to spread claims that the products allowed people to lose weight while they slept and to lose body fat "while erasing 10 years in 10 weeks." Marketers falsely stated that scientific studies validated their claims, the commission charged.

Among the other false claims, the FTC said, were that the products could contain or increase the body's production of growth hormone, increase strength and energy, restore the size of "bodily organs that shrink with age" and improve memory. Marketers also claimed the products can prevent, treat or cure diseases and medical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vision problems, depression and mood swings.

The FTC said consumers forwarded more than 200,000 spam e-mails about the products in 18 months. Those company e-mails used false headers and deceptive subject lines and omitted company addresses.

A federal law bans use of misleading subject lines and the sending of commercial e-mail messages that appear to be from friends. It also bans use of multiple e-mail addresses or domain names to hide senders' identities.

The FTC said it was seeking a permanent ban on the defendants' false and misleading claims and illegal spam, as well as money consumers spent on the products.

There was no response to a reporter's request for comment left with a sales operator at Pacific Herbal Sciences and with the two other companies. The Web site for Pacific Herbal Sciences was not online Tuesday, and a clerk at Natural Health Product, Inc. said that company's Web site was recently shut down.