Settlement With FTC Bans Scientist From Making Snakeoil Claims About POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice And POMx Supplements

Now cooperating with an FTC probe into POM Wonderful, Mark Dreher has been barred from making misleading claims about the product. Two evidence exhibits in the case showed a newsletter in which Dreher allegedly made unsubstantiated claims about the juice and related products.

UPDATED 2:31 P.M. ET (U.S.A.) The chief science officer of POMWonderful LLC knew as early as May 2007 that a company-funded, placebo-controlled study showed that there was  “no significant difference” between consumption of pomegranate juice and a control beverage after 18 months in reducing arterial plaque and the risk of heart disease but continued to tout “POM Wonderful’s cardiovascular research and benefits despite the negative testing results,” the FTC said.

In addition to being touted as a treatment for heart disease, POM Wonderful also allegedly was pitched as a treatment for prostate cancer despite a lack of scientific proof that the juice prevented or reduced disease risk.

Now Mark Dreher, a Ph.D. who was vice president of Science & Regulatory Affairs for POM Wonderful and allegedly help spread unproven claims about its products, has been barred from making “any disease treatment or prevention claim” that is misleading, the FTC said.

In a settlement with the agency in a false-advertising case brought in September, Dreher acknowledged no wrongdoing.

An order that accompanies the case “further prohibits Dreher from making other health claims for a food, drug, or dietary supplement for human use, including as an expert endorser, without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claim,” the FTC said.

Dreher also agreed to a “cooperation clause” in the FTC’s ongoing case against POM Wonderful.

Brought as an administrative action, the case alleged that POM Wonderful also was touted as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in September.

“When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made,” Vladeck said. “Contrary to POM Wonderful’s advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.”

As has been the case with Internet-related frauds, the FTC gathered evidence that included photographs and written claims about the products as part of its probe, according to administrative filings.

Visit the FTC site for case information.

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