On October 5, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled its case with Supple, LLC over certain advertising claims regarding its Supple joint supplement. Between 2011 and 2015, the company advertised (via social media, radio, and in-person pitches) that the supplement was scientifically proven to provide complete relief from chronic and severe joint pain stemming from arthritis and fibromyalgia. Additionally, the FTC charged one of the company’s principals for making unsubstantiated “expert endorsement” claims and for misrepresenting herself as an independent, impartial medical expert when in fact she was an employee of the company.  As part of the settlement, Supple and its principals may be required to pay $150 million to the FTC if they fail to comply with the terms of the stipulated order.    

Takeaway: Advertisers and marketers should ensure that any claims they make about pain relief, disease treatment, or other health benefits are supported by valid scientific evidence. Additionally, endorsements should adequately disclose any material connection between the advertiser and the endorser.