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(June 14, 2001) -- The new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission announced the agency was taking action against six online sellers of vitamins and herbal remedies, accusing them of making false health claims.

Today's enforcement action, announced jointly with the Food and Drug Administration, accused the six sites of either fraudulently making health claims for the supplements or fraudulently saying that there were no dangerous side effects.

Officials said St. John's wort, promoted as a safe treatment for AIDS on some of the sites, can inhibit the effect of AIDS drugs.

The six companies named were Panda Herbal International (also known as Viable Herbal Solutions), FoxMor, MaxCell BioScience (also known as Oasis Wellness Network), Aaron Co., Jaguar Enterprises and Western Dietary Products.

Five of the six companies have already agreed to settlements with the FTC, while Western Dietary agreed to a preliminary injunction. Timothy Muris, in his first news conference since taking over the agency, said he believes that corrective advertising is an appropriate remedy to seek in some cases, but hasn't yet reached a determination of exactly when.

Requests for corrective advertising were more common in the administration of Mr. Muris' predecessor, Robert Pitofsky, but rarely used previously by the FTC. -- Ira Teinowitz

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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