FTC Charges DC-Area "Infertility Specialist" With Misrepresentations, Seeks Injunction

FTC News Release
January 18, 1989

The Federal Trade Commission has charged Dr Cecil B. Jacobson, who ran the Reproductive Genetic Center, Ltd., in Vienna, VA, with misrepresenting that women who underwent his medical treatments were virtually certain to have successful pregnancies. The FTC has also asked a federal court to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting false claims by Jacobson.

Jacobson told women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant that they are "extremely likely or certain" to become pregnant and have a baby as a result of his treatment. In fact, the majority of his patients do not have babies as the result of his treatments, the FTC charged.

In addition, he also told women that they were pregnant as a result of his treatments, when in fact they were not pregnant, the complaint charged.

The complaint further charges that Jacobson, after telling women they were pregnant, later told them that their pregnancies had terminated. This was false because the women were not pregnant in the first place, according to the complaint.

The Commission asked the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions blocking future misrepresentations by Jacobson.

During their first visit, Jacobson generally promised women who have had difficulty conceiving children that his treatment would produce a child, but he did not give them a physical examination. He gave the women repeated injections of a hormone, which, according to the FTC staff, is known to cause positive readings on urinary pregnancy tests when there is, in fact, no pregnancy. After several weeks, Jacobson told the women they were pregnant. Subsequently, he would perform ultrasound tests or sonograms, which he reported showed evidence of pregnancy.

Sometime later, Jacobson usually advised the women that their pregnancies had terminated and that the fetus had been "resorbed," or absorbed back into the woman's body. He frequently advised women to start treatment again, sometimes stating that they are most fertile after termination of a pregnancy. Many women repeated the cycle of treatment, according to the FTC complaint.

The complaint charges that Jacobson's false representations "have induced consumers to undergo repeated courses of treatment, thereby causing substantial financial injury in monies paid for defendants' services. In addition, such representations may have lead consumers to forego other alternatives for having children, including other treatment and/or adoption, all to consumers' substantial detriment."

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