"Dr. Oz Show" Green Beans Claim Brings $9 Million FTC Fine

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The self-described naturopath who made millions after his dubious weight-loss product was touted as "magic" on "The Dr. Oz Show" has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

green bean extract

The self-described naturopath who made millions after his dubious weight-loss product was touted as “magic” on “The Dr. Oz Show” has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

According to an FTC press release, Texas entrepreneur Lindsey Duncan and his companies, Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today Inc., will pay a $9 million fine to settle charges the companies marketed a green coffee bean extract as a miracle weight-loss supplement, despite lacking credible scientific evidence to support the claim.

“Lindsey Duncan and his companies made millions by falsely claiming that green coffee bean supplements cause significant and rapid weight loss,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

She said Duncan and others like him “prey on consumers trying to improve their health.”

Much of Duncan’s success appears to be tied to his appearance on television shows like “Dr. Oz” and “The View.” In its press release, the FTC outlines how Duncan tailored a marketing campaign around his “Dr. Oz” appearance, buying search-based advertising that matched phrases Duncan used during his TV stint.

During the “Dr. Oz” episode, host Mehmet Oz, MD, referred to the supplement as a “miracle pill” according to a Washington Post article on the episode. A YouTube clip of the segment has been taken down.

“You may think magic is make believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they found a magic weight loss cure for every body type,” Oz said, according to the Post’s transcript.

Duncan also referenced the Dr. Oz appearance in other advertising and in-store product displays. The “Oz effect” seems to have worked, according to the FTC, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in sales.

The FTC also alleges that Duncan’s companies paid spokespeople to endorse his products on television while presenting themselves as independent experts without financial ties to the firms.

The settlement is the latest embarrassment for Oz and his popular TV show. The Harvard and University of Pennsylvania-trained physician was called before a US Senate Committee last year, where lawmakers proceeded to grill the doctor on his track record of providing a forum to people and companies making scientifically unsupported claims about health products and supplements.

In his agreement with the FTC, Duncan was ordered to pay $5 million within 2 weeks of the court entering the order. The rest of the fine will be due at a later date. The settlement also bars Duncan from misrepresenting the status of paid endorsers of his products. He further agreed to substantiate any future weight-loss claims “with at least 2 well-controlled human clinical tests.”

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