FTC Bans Diet Pill Seller from the Weight-Loss Business

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Fat man holding a measuring tape. Weight Loss.
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The maker of a line of diet supplements sold at the nation's largest pharmacies with the false promise that the pills would magically make users slender (they didn't) was banned -- at least, for now -- from selling weight loss products under a just-finalized agreement, the Federal Trade Commission said on Friday.

HealthyLife Sciences and its principal sold Healthe Trim supplements with the claim you could "get high school skinny." Apparently, it only worked as advertised if its users had never gained weight after graduation.

John Matthew Dwyer III (aka Matthew Dyer), the co-founder of the Atlanta-based company, agreed to stay out of the weight-loss industry under the terms of the settlement of deceptive advertising charges. Dwyer claimed the pills had ingredients that combined to burn fat, speed up the metabolism and suppress appetite.

No Penalty, No Restitution

The FTC said the company took in about $76 million between 2009 and 2013. Healthe Trim supplements were sold at CVS (CVS), Walgreens (WAG) and at GNC (GNC) stores. It cost consumers who bought into the spiel $50 to $65 for a month's supply, the FTC said. The key to the sales were customer testimonials featuring claims that, for example, using the pills helped one user to drop 54 pounds and go from a size 12 dress to a size 2.

"Losing weight is rarely easy, and it would be a miracle if a pill made it so," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "Consumers should be skeptical when a product like this one claims to make weight loss easy."

The company itself (if it continues to operate without Dwyer) is barred from making a host of what the FTC describes as "scientifically infeasible" claims about its supplements. And it can no longer make any weight-loss-related claims at all about them until it has in hand two legitimate, scientifically rigorous human clinical-trial studies to support its statements.

Unlike many settlements of this type, there is no financial penalty and no provision for consumer restitution.
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