Health

Published on July 6th, 2020

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FTC Brain Claims Cases Since 1995

A 2019 report by the Global Council on Brain Health came about as close as a group of experts could come to calling brain supplements a total waste of money.

Following a review of the evidence supporting brain supplement marketers’ claims, experts wrote in the first of nine “practical tips” for consumers: “Buying supplements to benefit your brain health is likely a waste of money.”

Second on the list? A warning to be cautious of “claims to improve brain health or memory, make you smarter or cure a brain disease,” which the report found to be lacking scientific evidence.

In fact, these are exactly the types of brain claims that the FTC has been targeting in cases not just involving supplements, but all kinds of products over the last 25 years.

Since 1995, the FTC has brought nearly 70 actions alleging that companies market their products using deceptive brain claims, including claims that products improve memory, provide other cognitive benefits and/or treat brain diseases and disorders.

The actions, outlined in the chart below, are a mix of administrative actions (15), court cases (28), warning letters (21) and closing letters (4). The vast majority (55) involve the marketing of supplements, including actions taken against the marketers of Prevagen and Neora (formerly known as Nerium), both of which were the subject of separate TINA.org investigations. (TINA.org is also tracking a number of class-action lawsuits focused on deceptive brain health advertising claims.)

The FTC has also sought to crack down on CBD and human growth hormone (HGH) supplements making deceptive brain claims. Other products at issue include foods, beverages, medical devices and brain training programs.

The year with the largest number of FTC brain claims cases to date (12) is 2019. That year, an AARP survey found that more than a quarter of Americans age 50 and older take supplements on a regular basis to boost their brain health, despite what experts say.

Target
(Year)
Type of Action Type of Product Product(s) at Issue* Deceptive Brain Health Claim Outcome
NBTY (1)

(1995
and
2005)

Administrative action followed by lawsuit alleging consent order was violated Supplements Memory Booster

Ginsana

Royal Tongan Limu

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease treatment

1995 Action: Settled

2005 Action: Settled

Zygon International et al.

(1996)

Administrative Action Supplements

Devices

SuperBrain Nutrient Program

Learning Machine

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Kevin Trudeau

(1998)

Court Case Brain Training Kevin Trudeau’s Mega Memory System Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease treatment

Settled (2)
Venegas Inc.

(1998)

Administrative Action Supplements Alen Memory improvement Settled
Mega Systems

(1998)

Administrative Action Brain Training Kevin Trudeau’s Mega Memory System Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled (3)
Western Dietary Products doing business as Western Herb & Dietary Products et al.

(2001)

Court Case Devices

Supplements

Black Walnut Tincture

Wormwood Tincture

Cloves Tincture

Zapper Electrical Unit

Disease Treatment Settled
ValueVision International

(2001)

Administrative Action Supplements NutriFirm Internal Cleanser Memory improvement Settled
Raw Health and Pletschke

(2002
and
2003)

Administrative action followed by
lawsuit alleging consent order was violated
Supplements Colloidal Silver

E3 Essential Algae

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

2002 Action: Settled

2003 Action: Default judgment and permanent injunction affirmed on appeal

Interstate Bakeries

(2002)

Administrative Action Food Wonder Bread Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Campbell Mithun LLC

(2002)

Administrative Action Food Wonder Bread Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Clark Research Association et al.

(2003)

Court Case Devices

Supplements

Super-Zapper Deluxe

Complete Herbal Parasite Program (aka Herbal Parasite Cleanse)

Disease Treatment Settled
Glenn Braswell et al.

(2003)

Court Case Supplements G.H.3. aka Theraceuticals GH3 Romanian Youth Formula Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

12 defendants settled; claims against 5 defendants remain pending
Thane International

(2003)

Closing Letter Supplements Youth Cocktail Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
Vital Basics et al.

(2004)

Administrative Action Supplements Focus Factor Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Creative Health Institute

(2004)

Administrative Action Supplements Focus Factor Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Beech-Nut Nutrition

(2004)

Closing Letter Food First Advantage Baby Food Cognitive benefits No further action
Martek Biosciences

(2004)

Closing Letter Supplements Neuromins Cognitive benefits No further action
Nutramax Laboratories

(2004)

Administrative Action Supplements Senior Moment Memory improvement Settled
Window Rock

(2004)

Court Case Supplements CortiStress Disease Treatment Settled
Sagee et al.

(2004)

Court Case Supplements Sagee Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled (4)
Great American Products et al.

(2005)

Court Case Supplements Ultimate HGH

Master HGH

Super HGH

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled (5)
Pacific Herbal Sciences et al.

(2005)

Court Case Supplements HGH Revolution

Natural Rejuvenator

Other HGH oral sprays

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Garden of Life et al.

(2006)

Court Case Supplements Primal Defense

Living Multi

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
7 Day Marketing et al.

(2008)

Court Case Supplements 7 Day Miracle Cleanse Program Disease Treatment Settled
Roex

(2009)

Court Case Supplements Cell Talk

B-Complex Combination

Essenial Fatty Acids (EFA)

Disease Treatment Settled
Kellogg Co.

(2009)

Administrative Action Food Frosted Mini-Wheats Cognitive benefits Settled
Northwest Natural Products

(2009)

Closing Letter Supplements L’il Critter Gummy Vitamins for Kids Cognitive benefits No further action
Barlean’s Organic Oils

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Barlean’s Kid’s Omega Swirl

Barlean’s Fresh Catch Kid’s DHA

Barlean’s Kid’s Omega Burst

Cognitive benefits No further action
Country Life Vitamins

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Country Life Vitamin’s Dolphin Pals DHA Gummies for Kids Cognitive benefits No further action
CVS

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Omega-3 Gummy Fish with DHA Cognitive benefits No further action
Right Track Global doing business as Dr. Sears Family

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements GO FISH Children’s Omega-3 DHA Soft Gels

GO FISH Children’s Omega-3 DHA Liquid

GO FISH Brainy Kidz Children’s Omega-3 DHA Soft Chews

Cognitive benefits No further action
Health From the Sun Products

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements A+ Kids DHA Smart Squirts Memory Improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
Hero Nutritional Products doing business as Hero Nutritionals

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Yummi Bears Omega 3-6-9

Yummi Bears DHA

Memory Improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
Irwin Naturals

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Irwin Kids Bright Brain Cognitive benefits No further action
Natural Factors Nutritional Products

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements

Beverages

Learning Factors Supplements

Learning Factors Smoothie Mixes

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
Nordic Naturals

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA

Nordic Naturals Omega-3-6-9 Junior

Memory Improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Rainbow Light Nutritional System’s Gummy Omegalicious Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

No further action
The Vitamin Shoppe

(2010)

Warning Letter Supplements Vitamin Shoppe’s Children’s DHA 250 mg Cognitive benefits No further action
NBTY, Naturesmart, and Rexall Sundown

(2011)

Administrative Action Supplements Disney and Marvel Hero Children’s Multivitamins Gummies and Tablets Cognitive benefits Settled
TriVita et al.

(2014)

Court Case Beverages Nopalea drink Disease Treatment Settled
i-Health and Martek

(2014)

Administrative Action Supplements BrainStrong Adult Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
NourishLife et al.

(2015)

Court Case Supplements Speak Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Focus Education et al.

(2015)

Administrative Action Game Jungle Rangers for ifocus system Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Keyview Labs, Brain Research Labs et al.

(2015)

Court Case Supplements Procera AVH Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Lumosity

(2016)

Court Case Brain Training Lumosity Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
LearningRX Franchise Group et al.

(2016)

Court Case Brain Training LearningRX Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Quincy BioScience et al.

(2017)

Court Case Supplements Prevagen Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Pending
Better Health Nutritionals et al.

(2017)

Court Case Supplements CogniPrin Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
Health Research Laboratories et al.

(2017)

Court Case Supplements NeuroPlus Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled (6)
Cellmark BioPharma et al.

(2018)

Court Case Supplements Cognify Cognitive benefits (7) Settled
Regenerative Medical Group et al.

(2018)

Court Case Stem Cell Therapy Stem Cell Therapy Disease Treatment Settled
Gold Crown Natural Products

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements New Ultra Colostrum

Melatonin with Valerian

Disease Treatment No further action
Pure Nootropics

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Alpha GPC 50% Capsules and Powder

Citicoline for Enhaned Cognition

Piracetam Capsules Subscription

Vitamin D3 5000 IU Softgels

Ginkgo Biloboa Capsules

Memory improvement

Cognitive Benefits

Disease Treatment

No further action
TEK Naturals

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Mind Ignite

BurnerTEK

TestoTEK

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

No further action
Nutra Pure

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements CBD Softgels

Hemp Oil

Disease Treatment No further action
PotNetwork Holdings

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Liquid Gold CBD Gummies

blue CBD Crystals Isolate 1500mg

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

No further action
Relievus

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements CBD Salve

CBD Oil

Disease Treatment No further action
Global Community Innovations et al.

(2019)

Court Case Supplements Geniux

EVO

Ion-Z

Xcel

Memory Improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled
NuLife CBD Oils

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements NuLife CBD Oils Disease Treatment No further action
Ocanna Co.

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Ocanna CBD Gummies and Oils Disease Treatment No further action
4Bush Holdings

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Magic Green Oil Drops (CBD Supplements) Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

No further action
Rooted Apothecary

(2019)

Warning Letter Supplements Teeth/TMJ – Essential Oil + CBD Infusion

Ears – Essential Oil + CBD Infusion

Hemp Capsules, 750 mg

Hemp Infused Body Butter

Hemp Oil

Disease Treatment No further action
Neora (formerly known as Nerium)

(2019)

Court Case Supplements Nerium EHT Age-Defying Supplement, Mind Enhancement Formula

ME Sports nutritional supplement

Memory improvement

Disease Treatment

Two defendants settled; claims against four defendants pending
Quantum Wellness Botanical Institute et al.

(2020)

Court Case Supplements ReJuvenation Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Health Center et al.

(2020)

Court Case Supplements Rejuvi-Cell

Rejuvi-Sea

Rejuvi-Stem

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Disease Treatment

Settled
Mile High Madison Group, Inc. et al.

(2020)

Court Case Supplements Regenify

Resetigen-D

Memory improvement

Cognitive benefits

Settled

(1) NBTY was formerly known as Nature’s Bounty. The 1995 action was filed against Nature’s Bounty and the 2005 action was filed against NBTY.

(2) In 2004, Trudeau entered a stipulated order to resolve charges that he violated the 1998 court order by marketing a product to cure cancer. In 2007, a federal judge found that Trudeau misrepresented the contents of his weight-loss book in infomercials, in violation of the 2004 court order. These two subsequent actions are not included in the chart.

(3) Six months later, the FTC filed a lawsuit alleging that the company failed to pay the monetary penalty. This December 1998 lawsuit is not included in the chart.

(4) In 2006, the FTC claimed that the defendants violated the 2005 court order by marketing that a pill would prevent, treat and cure diabetes. The parties modified the original court order to resolve this matter. The 2006 action is not listed separately in this chart.

(5) Three years later, the FTC claimed that three of the defendants violated the original court order by failing to properly disclose that programs were paid advertisements. The parties entered a stipulated court order to resolve these allegations. This second action is not listed separately in this chart.

(6) Two years later, the FTC, along with the state of Maine, filed a contempt action alleging that two of the defendants violated the settlement agreement by advertising that supplements could treat and cure diseases without the required scientific support. The contempt action is pending. It is not included in the chart.

(7) The brain health advertising claims at issue in the Cellmark BioPharma case are directed to cancer patients. The FTC alleges that marketing materials for one of the supplements at issue deceptively represent that it will prevent or help cancer patients with “chemo brain” and cognitive decline due to cancer and cancer treatments.

* There may be products at issue in these cases that are not listed in this chart.

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