The National Advertising Division has recommended that Pursuit of Research, LLC, discontinue all challenged claims for the company’s Nutriiveda dietary supplements, which are marketed as “cures” for conditions that include attention deficit disorder, apraxia, autism, diabetes, dyspraxia, seizures, traumatic brain injury and stroke. The advertiser said it will appeal NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB.)\
The claims at issue were challenged by Nourishlife, LLC, manufacturer of a competing product, Speech Nutrients.
An Illinois company and its owner will stop making allegedly deceptive claims that their dietary supplements are proven effective at treating childhood speech disorders, including those associated with autism, in order to settle Federal Trade Commission charges. Under the FTC settlement, the defendants also will pay $200,000 and are required to disclose any material connections with their endorsers.
“Parents of children with speech disorders need accurate information about products that may be able to help,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This company took advantage of parents’ trust.”
Since at least 2008, NourishLife, LLC and its owner, Mark Nottoli, have sold Speak softgels and capsules and Speak Smooth liquid children’s supplements online and through a network of distributors for more than $70 per bottle. The supplements -- which contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamins E and K -- were advertised via the Internet, including search engine ads such as Google sponsored links and on websites, and at conferences on autism spectrum disorders.
For example, a Google sponsored link for Speak products, which could display if consumers searched on the term “toddler speech problems,” contained the statement, “Healthy Speech for Child – SpeechNutrients speak Supplement” and linked to a web page claiming the supplements were developed by a pediatrician to support “normal and healthy speech development and maintenance.” That web page also included a statement from a parent endorsing the product, who said “[my daughter] is speaking in more complex sentences and she is less gittery [sic], more focused.” Other statements from parent endorsers appeared in product brochures and on speechnutrients.com, such as:
“Speak vitamins have made my little boy talk. He is five years old and has not spoken until I began giving him the vitamins.”
“We were really amazed when Ben started singing along with a song on the radio . . . . and he was singing 3+ word phrases, not just one word here & there.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, between 2008 and late 2013, ads for Speak products made unsupported claimsthat the supplements develop and maintain normal, healthy speech and language capabilities in children, including those with verbal apraxia -- a motor speech disorder affecting the ability to utter sounds, syllables, and words.
These ads, the complaint asserts, also falsely claimed that Speak products are scientifically proven to improve children’s speech. In addition, the complaint charges that ads for Speak products deceptively claimed that the supplements are effective in treating or mitigating verbal apraxia and communication and behavioral difficulties in children with an autism spectrum disorder.