Deceptive Osteoporosis Claims Targeted in Settlement
with Calcium Supplement Marketer

FTC News Release
September 2, 1994

RN Nutrition and its principals, George Page Rank and James W. Nugent, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made unsubstantiated and and misleading claims to market their calcium supplement product, "BoneRestore." This is the second case involving calcium supplements in the past month, and is the latest in a series of FTC cases targeting deceptive claims for nutritional supplements.

The proposed settlement would require substantiation for claims that any RN food, drug or supplement product will treat or cure any disease or condition, would prohibit RN from using the name "BoneRestore" in a misleading way, and would restrict the use of testimonial endorsements that do not represent typical results.

RN Nutrition is a Santa Ana, California, partnership, marketing dietary supplements by direct mail.

In the complaint detailing the charges, the FTC alleged that RN advertising contained statements such as, "Natural BONE-RESTORE from Europe builds bone better than estrogen or calcium (with NO bad side effects!)," and "Natural BONE RESTORE from Europe builds bone 4 times better than calcium alone!"

The FTC charged that, through the use of these and other ads, RN represented, among other things, that BoneRestore or its ingredient, microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, builds bone better than estrogen, slows or stops bone loss, prevents and heals osteoporosis and restores lost bone.

In fact, the FTC charged, RN did not have adequate evidence to support these representations. Moreover, the FTC alleged, RN's statements that scientific studies proved that Bone Restore worked as represented were false.

The FTC also alleged that the consumer testimonials RN used to promote their product did not reflect the typical or ordinary experience of users, as RN had represented.

The proposed consent agreement settling the charges would prohibit RN from making any claims that BoneRestore builds bone better than estrogen or other forms of calcium, that BoneRestore builds new bone, restores lost bone, prevents osteoporosis or fractures, slows or stops bone loss or eliminates pain associated with bone ailments, unless RN has competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the claims. The agreement also would restrict the use of testimonials which fail to represent the typical or ordinary experience of users, and prohibit use of the name "BoneRestore" in a misleading way.

The five-member Commission vote to announce the complaint and proposed consent agreement for public comment was 4-1, with Commissioner Deborah K. Owen dissenting. In her statement of dissent, Commissioner Owen said, "Although I believe that certain of RN claims were unsubstantiated, and therefore, I would have been inclined to support a more narrow complaint, I must dissent from today's Commission action because I believe that, on balance, it runs contrary to the public interest. I fear that the breadth of the allegations in the administrative complaint may convey the wrong message to the public and thereby discourage not only truthful and nondeceptive claims about calcium supplements but, ultimately, their use. In taking this action today, I believe that the Commission has essentially ceded its authority to the FDA."

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