The owner of an NBC-affiliated home shopping TV network and Web site has
agreed to pay $215,000 to resolve a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging
unsubstantiated health claims for a dietary supplement.
ValueVision International Inc., the third-largest television home shopping
retailer in the United States, allegedly made unsubstantiated health claims for
"Physician's RX," a dietary supplement containing a variety of vitamins, minerals
ValueVision, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., owns and operates ShopNBC TV,
which markets a variety of consumer products through live, 24-hour programming
on cable and direct-broadcast satellite.
It also operates Web site ShopNBC.com (www.shopnbc.com ).
NBC-themed items are also available, such as the Crossing Jordan
soundtrack and Scrubs tops.
This isn't the first time ValueVision has been in hot water with the FTC.
In July 2001, the commission charged the company with making unsubstantiated
health claims for several weight-loss, cellulite-treatment and anti-hair-loss products.
A consent agreement settling the FTC charges obligated ValueVision to have
"competent and reliable scientific evidence" substantiating health claims for
other products -- claims that a food, drug, or dietary supplement "can or will
cure, treat, or prevent any disease, or have any effect on the structure or
function of the human body."
The new complaint alleged that ValueVision, through
television advertising featuring testimonials for Physician's RX, made claims
that the product reduces fatigue associated with taking prescription drugs, such
as drugs for heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes; reduces fatigue
associated with certain illnesses, including diabetes, lyme disease,
sarcoidosis and cancer; increases energy, stamina and endurance within a week
to 10 days; and relieves arthritis symptoms.