WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s decision that the manufacturers of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements were deceptive in their advertisements and did not have sufficient support for the claims they made about the products. The claims include saying the products could treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction and that they were clinically proven to work.
The F.T.C. found the POM makers made deceptive claims in 36 advertisements and promotional materials. The advertisements appeared in Parade, Fitness, The New York Times and Prevention magazines, on various web sites, bus stops and billboards, in newsletters to customers and on tags attached to the product. The F.T.C. finding goes beyond the judge’s ruling that only found 19 deceptive claims.
The commission also has issued an order preventing POM marketers from making any claims a food, drug or dietary supplement is effective in diagnosis or prevention of any disease unless the claim is supported by two random, well-controlled human clinical trials. The order also prohibits misrepresentations of any test, study or research and requires competent and reliable scientific evidence to support claims.
In upholding the judge’s decision, the F.T.C. has denied POM Wonderful, L.L.C., Roll Global L.L.C., Stewart Resnick, Lynda Resnick and Matthew Tupper’s appeal. The commission also denied POM respondents’ argument such actions would violate their First and Fifth Amendment rights. The F.T.C. vote approving the opinion and final order was 5 to 0.The F.T.C. originally filed its complaint against POM Wonderful advertisements in September 2010. D. Michael Chappell, chief administrative law judge, in May 2012 upheld the F.T.C. complaint about the claims. The complaint said many of the company’s scientific studies failed to show benefits from using POM products for treating or preventing heart disease; the study relied upon for prostate cancer claims was neither blinded nor controlled; and the study relied upon for erectile dysfunction claims failed to show POM juice was any more effective than a placebo.