In newspapers, magazines or on the Internet, it is not difficult to find health and beauty products making claims that sound too good to be true. As of Friday afternoon, there is a just a little less of that advertising out there.
According to Kelly Walker, of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office Consumer Affairs unit, that is a clear victory for California consumers.
“It’s a glorified heating pad that sells for $295 to over $300 with misleading advertising,” said Walker.
The was one of 10 California DA's offices that particpated in the civil suit. Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano and Sonoma also joined in the action.
The Food & Drug Administration allows advertisements for the DPL Therapy device to claim the product can relax muscles, increase blood circulation and provide temporary minor pain relief.
Judge Freedman found SCI made claims in advertising beyond those allowed and issued the preliminary injunction against its continued sale by SCI. A direct marketing company that operates under the BioTech Research business name, SCI may not sell, deliver or offer to sell the DPL Therapy System to anyone in California unless they do so within FDA guidelines.
The lawsuit looked at SCI’s advertising for other products as well. It alleges SCI and Benjamin Suarez, an SCI officer, "made unsubstantiated, false and/or misleading claims, explicitly and implicitly," in 18 different products’ advertisements.
This is not the first legal action taken against SCI and Suarez, a longtime direct marketer who has published two books on direct marketing strategy, the first in 1979.
“He’s been doing this for over 20 years and been the subject of numerous enforcement actions,” said Walker.
Those previous enforcement actions include a 2006 judgment against SCI for deceptive marketing of a dietary supplement called AbGone. The product also contained lead levels above the allowed amount.
In addition to the injunction, the current lawsuit seeks $6 million in civil penalties and restitution to consumers who bought products from SCI.