BBB National Programs Archive

Massachusetts Health Plaza Participates In ERSP Forum

New York,NY– September 8, 2006 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Massachusetts Health Plaza (MHP ), marketers of Hoodia Gordonii BIOptimax 24/7 Nutritional Supplement (BIOptimax), have provided a reasonable basis for certain ingredient claims. ERSP has recommended the marketer modify other claims to clarify typical product performance. The marketer’s advertising was reviewed pursuant to an anonymous challenge.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response  industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better  Business  Bureaus  (CBBB)  with  policy  oversight  by  the  National  Advertising Review Council (NARC).

ERSP reviewed core claims that include:

  • “…Starting on the first day, millions of fat cells every day are literally going to shrink. You can lose up to: 4 lbs in 48 hours; 9 lbs in 7 days ; 14 lbs in 14 days; 18 lbs in 21 days then keep burning fat until all the weight you want to lose is gone.”
  • “I lost 9 lbs in one week”
  • “See for yourself that it is 100% safe with absolutely no undesirable side effects.” “Burn more fat sunbathing than swimming 4 miles non-stop!”

ERSP determined that the marketer’s voluntary modification of claims to clarify that the product’s primary ingredient was the subject of clinical observation was not inappropriate.  However, in the absence of any actual testing in the record, ERSP recommends discontinuing any inferences that the product’s main ingredient has been “clinically proven.”

Moreover, ERSP determined that performance claims used in the advertising should be representative of what could typically be expected from these ingredient studies, i.e., two pounds per week. ERSP also recommended placing the disclosure language regarding the necessity of diet and exercise in closer proximity to these claims.

ERSP determined that the claim “Burn more fat sunbathing than swimming 4 miles non-stop,” did contain an implied temporal comparison, and recommended that the marketer discontinue this claim in future advertising.

ERSP concluded that the consumer testimonials reported atypical product performance. Moreover, because these testimonials are considered anecdotal evidence, ERSP recommended modifying these statements to communicate the results are atypical, and will vary from the Phytopharm test results of the active ingredient.

ERSP found that the marketer provided sufficient safety information on the active ingredient, and the lack of side effects observed in the testing. However it was recommended that MHP remove any language which provides a time period when consumers may expect to see tangible results and to include language indicating that “In the preliminary studies conducted by Phytopharm, the safety data are consistent with a satisfactory overall safety profile, however further scientific studies are required to establish the safety profile of Hoodia gordonii extract. These are currently ongoing at Phytopharm.”

MHP, in its marketer’s statement, said it “… (“MHP”) is pleased with ERSP’s conclusions that scientific evidence provides a reasonable basis for claims relating to the efficacy of the active ingredient …”

The marketer continued “MHP respectfully disagrees, however, that the advertising made any claim that was not fully substantiated by the support submitted by the company….Nevertheless, although disappointed with certain aspects of the ERSP decision, MHP agrees to take ERSP’s recommendations into account in all future advertising.”