NY Dermatologist "Expert Endorser" Settles FTC Charges
That She Made False Claims in
Infomercial for Purported Baldness Cure
FTC News Release
June 16, 1992
Patricia Wexler, MD, a New York City dermatologist, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that, as an expert endorser, she made claims that she knew or should have known were false and misleading in a program-length commercial for Omexin — a purported baldness cure. The proposed settlement agreement, which was announced today for public comment, would prohibit Wexler from making false or unsubstantiated claims or endorsements.
The Commission alleged that an advertisement in which Dr Wexler appears — the infomercial "Can You Beat Baldness?" — depicts her as an expert in hair loss, and that in that role she made representations such as the following:
- "We have patients in both a double-blind study and using what we consider to be a very active ingredient, and what we've seen is that patients are ceasing to lose their hair very quickly within starting Omexin and then within a short time after, they start seeing new hair appear. It's not just fuzz, we're seeing actual pigmented terminal hair, which is very exciting for the patient as well as the doctor."
- "Omexin is the first product that I can say with enthusiasm can stop hair loss and promote growth."
Through such endorsements, the FTC charged, Wexler represented that Omexin contains an ingredient that curtails hair loss and promotes new hair growth, and that its effectiveness has been scientifically proven.
According to the FTC's complaint, these representations were false and misleading, and Wexler knew or should have known this was the case. The complaint alleges that Dr. Wexler lacked a reasonable basis to support representations she made in her endorsement.
The proposed settlement agreement would prohibit Wexler from broadcasting or assisting in the broadcasting of the "Can You Beat Baldness?" infomercial. It would also prohibit Wexler, in connection with the sale of Omexin or any other product that contains omentum — the purported active ingredient in Omexin — from representing that the product contains an ingredient that can curtail or reverse hair loss or promote hair growth.
Further, the proposed settlement would prohibit Wexler from representing, in connection with endorsing, advertising, promoting or selling any other product or service, that the product or service is an effective hair-loss or hair-growth remedy unless these representations are true and she has competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate them. In cases where Wexler is providing an expert endorsement, she must undertake an examination or test of the product at least as extensive as an expert in the field would normally conduct to support the claims.
The proposed settlement would prohibit Dr Wexler from misrepresenting the contents, validity, or results of any such test or study.
Finally, the proposed settlement would require Wexler to possess reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any representation or endorsement she makes regarding the performance, benefits, efficacy or safety of any food, drug, device or cosmetic.
- FTC File No. 892-3115. FTC Docket No. C-3400).
This page was posted on August 27, 2006.