FTC Charges Additional Defendants in Phony AIDS Treatment and Cure Case

FTC News Release
March 8, 1994

The Federal Trade Commission has charged two more individuals and one company in its case against the promoters of "Imuno-Plex," an algae-based food supplement, as a treatment or cure for HIV disease, AIDS and AIDS-related complex (ARC) and their symptoms. The new defendants are Durand Keith Demlow, doing business as Durand Demlow Advertising Art; Lifeline, Inc.; and Lifeline's president, Robert B. Danek. The court also granted the FTC's request that a temporary restraining order and asset freeze be issued against Lifeline and Danek.

Durand Demlow Advertising Art is based in Lake Oswego, OR; Lifeline, Inc. is based in Albuquerque, NM; and Robert B. Danek resides in Albuquerque, NM. Earlier defendants named in the case include Mary L. Redhead, who resides in Yelm, WA, and Thelma M. Magno, whose business address is Portland, OR.

In its original complaint filed in federal district court on Oct. 4, 1993, the FTC alleged that since at least January 1993, defendants Magno and Redhead advertised Imuno-Plex in gay-oriented newspapers in San Francisco, New York and Chicago. The complaint cited numerous statements in the Imuno-Plex ads, and from an informational brochure the defendants disseminated to prospective customers, that allegedly maintained that use of the product would cure or alleviate a variety of conditions and symptoms related to AIDS and ARC, including thrush—a fungal disease—and lesions from Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer. In addition, the defendants' ads and brochure allegedly represented that Imuno-Plex would retard the progress of AIDS dementia and arrest or reverse the progress of AIDS or ARC. The ads and brochure also represented that the effectiveness of Imuno-Plex had been demonstrated by scientifically-valid clinical studies, according to the FTC complaint.

According to the amended complaint, Demlow operated the advertising agency that actively participated in the preparation of the Imuno-Plex advertisement and brochure. Demlow used written materials making broad efficacy claims to prepare the Imuno-Plex advertisements, then arranged to have the ads placed in the gay-oriented newspapers, the FTC charged. Lifeline and Danek allegedly supplied the Imuno-Plex product to defendants Redhead and Magno, and promoted it as a treatment for HIV disease. They have also sold the identical product, using the name "Natur-Earth," to potential distributors. Lifeline and Danek have also made false claims that Natur-Earth can cause the remission of various forms of cancer, in addition to the AIDS claims made for both products, according to the complaint. In addition, defendants Lifeline and Danek should be charged with aiding and abetting Magno and Redhead with respect to the Imuno-Plex claims, the FTC said.

The FTC's Seattle Regional Office conducted the investigation and is handling the case. The amended complaint was filed in the US District Court for the District of Oregon, in Portland, on Feb. 28. The amended complaint and application for temporary restraining order were filed under seal and the seal was lifted on March 7. The FTC received cooperation and assistance from the US Food and Drug Administration and the office of the Attorney General of New Mexico.

The Commission vote to file the amended complaint was 5-0.

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