Tommie Copper, Inc., an athletic apparel company, and its founder have agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it falsely claimed the company’s copper-infused compression clothing would relieve the severe pain and inflammation of certain chronic diseases, including arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Under the settlement, Tommie Copper and its founder and chairman, Thomas Kallish, also are required to have validated and reliable scientific evidence to support future advertising claims regarding pain relief, disease treatment, or health benefits, according to a press release.
“It’s tempting to believe that wearing certain clothing will eliminate severe pain, but Tommie Copper didn’t have science to back its claims,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release. “If you see an ad for a product that promises to replace the need for drugs or surgery, talk to a healthcare professional before you spend your money.”
Based in Mt. Kisco, New York, Tommie Copper advertised its copper-infused compression garments health benefits since April 2011 in informational commercials (infomercials), leaflets, social media networks and magazines, including Arthritis Today. The garments — sleeves, braces, shirts and socks — sold between $29.95 and $69.50. Infomercials hosted by Montel Williams, a talk show personality, claimed, “Tommie Copper truly is pain relief without a pill.” Other advertisements featured celebrity and consumer testimonials claiming Tommie Copper garments eased pain caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis and fibromyalgia in ways comparable or superior to drugs or surgery.
The federal court order stipulated an $86.8 million fine against the defendants that becomes partially suspended once the $1.35 million settlement is paid. If the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, the total amount will immediately come due.
A complaint is filed by the Commission whenever a proceeding in the public interest is believed to be violating the law or have violated the law in the past. The FTC upholds consumers’ interests, preventing fraudulent, deceptive or unfair business practices.
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