Deceptive Advertising Ban Upheld by U.S. Court of Appeals

On January 30, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that POM Wonderful LLC’s claims that its pomegranate products combat heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction aren’t adequately backed by research. This ruling upheld a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ban on deceptive advertising by the company.

In 2013, the FTC upheld the findings of an administrative law judge that POM’s advertising was deceptive and ordered the company to stop claiming that its products are effective in treating, curing or preventing any disease “unless the claim is supported by two randomized, well-controlled, human clinical trials.” This most recent ruling lessened the FTC’s mandatory study requirement for health claims to one clinical trial.

In a statement by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, she stated, “Today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit is a victory for consumers. It is in keeping with established law that advertisers who market products for serious health conditions must have rigorous science to back up those claims. The court specifically recognized that this applies to food and dietary supplement marketers such as POM. It also held that requiring a randomized, well-controlled human clinical study for future disease benefit claims is an appropriate remedy based on POM’s conduct.”