HEALTH

Hi-Tech loses $15.8 million in FTC fraud case

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Coupled with some harsh rebukes, U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell earlier this month ordered Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals to forfeit $15.8 million for fraudulent claims made on behalf of their dietary supplements sold online.

According to the Fulton County Daily Report, Pannell released the findings in an order granting summary judgment to the Federal Trade Commission after a four-year legal battle against the National Urological Group (doing business as Warner Laboratories), the National Institute for Clinical Weight Loss Inc. and Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals Inc. (doing business as Planet Pharmacy, Global Pharmacy and others).

The companies had marketed their weight loss diet aid ThermaLean from their web sites and via spam e-mail with claims that it caused fat loss of more than 600 percent. The companies also marketed a second weight loss drug, Lipodrene, and the “natural” erectile dysfunction remedy Spontane-ES.

“All of the products at issue in this case are dietary supplements and/or drugs that are marketed as promoting health benefits in the form of weight loss and sexual enhancement,” Pannell’s order stated. “Not surprisingly, all of the unsubstantiated representations that the FTC claims the advertisements make are related to the safety and/or efficacy of the dietary supplements, and correspondingly, implicate health concerns.”

In court papers, Hi-Tech attorneys argued the company was not subject to FTC regulatory fines because—while it produced and marketed “multiple products under the name Lipodrene”—those products are “completely different in look and formulation” from the Lipodrene that the National Urological Group marketed in the advertisements cited in the FTC complaint, the Fulton County Daily reported.

However, Hi-Tech was also subject of a 2003 district court ruling, granting a request by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent the company from marketing and selling the same products that were subject to the latest ruling. In addition, Hi-Tech is one of 12 defendants named in a federal indictment that charges them with fraud, adulteration or misbranding of drugs, the introduction or distribution of drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and violations of federal drug import laws, according to published reports.

The criminal case is pending before U.S. District Judge Jack Camp, the Fulton County Daily reported.

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AMO, IER collaborate on eye care products

BY Michael Johnsen

SANTA ANA, Calif. Advanced Medical Optics on Monday announced a collaboration with the Institute for Eye Research to develop contact lens disinfectant and cleaning solutions and related products.

“IER’s world-class scientists and clinicians have had a major impact on the development of contact lenses and lens care technologies,” stated AMO executive vice president, research and development Leonard Borrmann. “We look forward to working closely with the IER on the development of next-generation contact lens solutions.”

“Through our collaboration with AMO, we will work to develop, test and deliver, through product innovation and education, the best in contact lens care products,” stated IER chief executive officer Brien Holden. “Our goal is to develop new, safer, better and more convenient initiatives in the field of contact lens cleaning and disinfection systems, including the containers for storage, cleaning and disinfection.”

IER is a non-profit research organization that conducts collaborative and contract research with and for industry in the area of vision correction, eye care, the anterior eye, contact lenses, contact lens care and patient management, to avoid contact lens complications. IER is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.

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Report: Americans opting for balanced eating over dieting

BY Michael Johnsen

ROSEMONT, Ill. According to an NPD Group report issued Monday, the latest fad in dieting may be not to diet at all, but to eat a more healthy diet in the first place.

NPD reported that the percentage of adults on a diet has decreased by 10 percentage points since 1990, while the percentage of Americans eating healthier has increased.

“While dieting for both women and men remain huge markets, they are not growing markets,” stated Harry Balzer, vice president, The NPD Group, and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The desire to lose weight really was a 90’s trend. Today consumers appear to be making healthier food choices.”

NPD’s National Eating Trends data finds that at least once in a two-week period, more than 70 percent of Americans are consuming reduced fat foods, and over half of them are eating reduced calorie, whole grain or fortified foods. In addition to these foods, other “better for you” foods consumed include diet, light, reduced cholesterol, reduced sodium, caffeine free, sugar free, fortified, organic, and low carb varieties. The average American, according to National Eating Trends, has at least two “better for you” products a day.

More consumers are looking to add whole grains, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and probiotics, according to the NPD Dieting Monitor, which examines top-of-mind dieting and nutrition-related issues facing consumers. Awareness of these nutritional food elements continues to grow. For example, in 2005, 36 percent of consumers surveyed said they were trying to get more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets, and the most recent NPD Dieting Monitor shows that number increasing to 46 percent.

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