Judge upholds FTC complaint over use of pomegranate products in PCa, ED

June 6, 2012

In an initial decision, a chief administrative law judge upheld a Federal Trade Commission complaint and ruled that POM Wonderful LLC and related parties violated federal law by making deceptive claims in some advertisements that their POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements would treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

In an initial decision, a chief administrative law judge upheld a Federal Trade Commission complaint and ruled that POM Wonderful LLC and related parties violated federal law by making deceptive claims in some advertisements that their POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements would treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

An order issued by Judge D. Michael Chappell would bar the POM respondents from making any representation about the "health benefits, performance, or efficacy" of POM products or any other food, drug, or dietary supplement. It also would bar them from representing that any such product "is effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease," including treating, preventing, or reducing the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, or erectile dysfunction.

While Chappell ruled that some of the POM respondents’ advertisements made the unsubstantiated claims, he found that with regard to some of their other ads, "the preponderance of the evidence fails to demonstrate that such advertisements would reasonably be interpreted by consumers as containing such claims."

In a statement, POM Wonderful called the ruling "a huge win" for the company.

"While we are still analyzing the ruling, it is clear that we will be able to continue to promote the health benefits of our safe food products without having our advertisements, marketing, or public relations preapproved by the FDA and without having to rely on double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies, the standard required for pharmaceuticals," said Craig Cooper of POM Wonderful.

Among four implications of the ruling highlighted by the company, it said Chappell "affirmed the scientific validity behind the general health benefits of pomegranates."

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