A judge in the Northern District of Georgia has found a number of defendants, comprising a larger company named Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Hi-Tech”), in contempt for repeated violations of court orders prohibiting the defendants from making deceptive marketing claims about weight-loss supplements and erectile dysfunction products. As a result of the order, Hi-Tech is required to pay more than $40 million to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).

The contempt charge was made in response to a 2011 action by the FTC that sought sanctions for Hi-Tech’s alleged violation of a final 2008 court order that charged the company $15.8 million and permanently barred it from selling products that Hi-Tech claimed assisted in rapid weight or fat loss, unless it could prove that the claims were true and scientifically proven. The FTC alleged that, in 2009, the defendants were violating the 2008 order by marketing four new dietary supplements with weight-loss claims that lacked the scientific support and substantiation required by the 2008 order.

Takeaway: Regulators continue to review weight-loss health claims, which must be substantiated by reliable scientific evidence.