Settlement to Resolve FTC Charges of Deceptive Claims
for "Eez-Away" Arthritis Treatment
FTC Also Alleges Infomercial Format Was Misleading
FTC News Release
November 17, 1994
Two Leawood, Kansas-based firms and an official of both have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges regarding arthritis-treatment claims they allegedly made in infomercials for "Eez-Away Relief," including false claims that it is a new or unique product that is a major breakthrough in the treatment of arthritis pain. The proposed settlement would prohibit false "breakthrough" claims for Eez-Away or similar products. It also would require that Olsen Laboratories, Inc., Richfield Distributors, Inc., and Peter F. Olsen have scientific substantiation before making health claims for products they market in the future.
The settlement also includes a broad provision that would require the respondents to possess scientific substantiation before making any health or medical benefit claim for any personal or household product or service they market in the future, a requirement that they take specific steps to clearly identify that any future infomercial they disseminate is paid advertising, and a prohibition on misusing endorsements or testimonials.
According to the FTC complaint detailing the allegations in this case, the respondents (collectively, Olsen) market and sell external analgesics, including Eez-Away, and have advertised Eez-Away in two infomercials — titled "30 MINUTES" and "Eez-Away the Pain." The FTC alleged that Olsen falsely represented in the infomercials that Eez-Away is new and unique, and a major break-through in the treatment of arthritis pain, and that scientific research proves it rapidly eliminates severe pain and physical disabilities associated with arthritis. The complaint also alleges that the respondents failed to have adequate evidence to support representations in the infomercials that Eez-Away:
- provides long-term pain relief;
- significantly increases the range of motion in arthritis-affected joints;
- is more effective than other over-the-counter medications in relieving arthritis pain; and
- relieves pain by penetrating through skin to the joint.
In addition, the FTC challenged testimonials and endorsements used in the infomercials. According to the complaint, the testimonials purported to reflect the typical or ordinary experience of Eez-Away users, yet Olsen was unable to substantiate that the represented experience was typical or ordinary.
Finally, the FTC alleged that the "30 MINUTES" infomercial was falsely portrayed as an independent television program, rather than paid commercial advertising.
The proposed consent agreement to settle these allegations, subject to a public-comment period and final Commission approval, would prohibit Olsen from making the false "new" or "breakthrough" claim for Eez-Away or any substantially similar product. With regard to any drug the respondents market in the future, they would be required to have well-controlled, double-blind clinical tests to support claims that the drug rapidly eliminates the severe pain and physical disabilities of arthritis or similar conditions; provides long-term pain relief; is more effective than other products in relieving pain or treating symptoms of arthritis or similar conditions; or that it increases range of motion in affected joints of persons with conditions similar to arthritis.
In addition, representations that any drug temporarily increases the range of motion in arthritis-affected joints by relieving minor pain, or that a drug relieves the pain of arthritis or similar conditions by penetrating through the skin to the joint, would have to be backed up by competent and reliable scientific evidence consisting of objectively-evaluated tests, analyses, research and other evidence based on professionals' expertise.
Competent and reliable scientific evidence also is required if the respondents represent that any product or service they offer for personal or household use provides any health or medical benefit. In addition, in connection with marketing any such product, the settlement would prohibit them from:
- misrepresenting that it is a new, unique or breakthrough treatment for any disease or condition;
- misrepresenting any study or test;
- using endorsements that purport to represent the typical or ordinary experience of users unless the typicality representation can be substantiated, or unless the respondents clearly and prominently disclose the generally- expected performance of this item or state that consumers should not expect to experience similar results.
Finally, the settlement would prohibit Olsen from disseminating any advertisement represented to be something other than paid advertising, and would require the respondents to disclose at the beginning of any infomercial, and immediately before any ordering information is presented, that the information is paid advertising.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 3-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga recused.
- In the Matter of Olsen Laboratories, Richfield Distributors, and Peter F. Olsen. 119 FTC 161, FTC Docket No. C-3556, FTC File No. 932-3316, FR Doc. 94-29576.
This page was posted on December 23, 2005.