Is this another case of over-hyped food or drink advertising - making claims that a pomegranate juice will protect from erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer or heart disease? What about an advert that also claims to treat? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that it has issued an administrative complaint, charging that POM Wonderful LLC, sister corporation Roll International Corp., and principals Stewart Resnick, Lynda Resnick, and Matthew Tupper violated federal law by making deceptive disease prevention and treatment claims regarding POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements.
The FTC quotes advertisements that appeard in Parade, Fitness, Prevention magazines, as well as in the New York Times. The ads also appeared online in pomtruth.com, pomwonderful.com and pompills.com. Other ads were also cited in bus stops, billboards, newsletters and product tags.
You can buy POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice across the USA in 16 oz. bottles for about $3.99. You can get the POMx pills and liquid extract via direct mail for $30 for a month's supply.
David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:
Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled. When a company touts scientific research in its advertising, the research must squarely support the claims made. Contrary to POM Wonderful's advertising, the available scientific information does not prove that POM Juice or POMx effectively treats or prevents these illnesses.
Some examples of POM sweeping claims include:
Prostate health. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in the United States and the second-leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer.
Time pill. Stable levels of prostate-specific antigens (or PSA levels) are critical for men with prostate cancer. Patients with quick PSA doubling times are more likely to die from their cancer. According to a UCLA study of 46 men age 65 to 70 with advanced prostate cancer, drinking an 8 oz glass of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice every day slowed their PSA doubling time by nearly 350%. .. 83% of those who participated in the study showed a significant decrease in their cancer regrowth rate.
SUPER HEALTH POWERS! ... 100% PURE POMEGRANATE JUICE. .. Backed by $25 million in medical research. Proven to fight for cardiovascular, prostate and erectile health.
NEW RESEARCH OFFERS FURTHER PROOF OF THE HEART-HEALTHY BENEFITS OF POM WONDERFUL JUICE. 30% DECREASE IN ARTERIAL PLAQUE ... 17% IMPROVED BLOOD FLOW ... PROMOTES HEALTHY BLOOD VESSELS..
You have to be on pomegranate juice. You have a 50 percent chance of getting [prostate cancer]. Listen to me. It is the one thing that will keep your PSA normal. You have to drink pomegranate juice. There is nothing else we know of that will keep your PSA in check. ... It's also 40 percent as effective as Viagra.
According to the FTC, the following claims are not only unsubstantiated, they are also false:
"Clinical studies prove that POM Juice and POMx prevent, reduce the risk of, and treat heart disease, including by decreasing arterial plaque, lowering blood pressure, and improving blood flow to the heart"
"Clinical studies prove that POM Juice and POMx prevent, reduce the risk of, and treat prostate cancer, including by prolonging prostate-specific antigen doubling time"
"Clinical studies prove that POM Juice prevents, reduces the risk of, and treats, erectile dysfunction"
Why are they false and unsubstantiated, according to the FTC?
- Many of POW Wonderful's scientific studies did not demonstrated any heart disease benefit.
- The prostate cancer studies were neither blinded nor controlled.
- The erectile dysfunction claims were not backed by studies that demonstrated POM juice effectiveness versus a placebo.
Docket No. 9344
"In the Matter of POM Wonderful LLC and Roll International Corp., companies, and Stewart A. Resnick, Lynda Rae Resnick, and Matthew Tupper, individually and as officers of the companies"
FTC (Federal Trade Commission) File No. 082-3122
Written by Christian Nordqvist