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Snake Oil! FTC Says in $13 Million Demand

PHOENIX (CN) - An Arizonan used false claims to sell $13 million of a "platinum" weight loss drug allegedly made from human chorionic gonadatropin, the FTC claims in Federal Court.

The Federal Trade Commission sued Kevin Wright, president and sole manager of co-defendants HCG Platinum, and Right Way Nutrition, both Utah LLCs.

Human chorionic gonadatropin (hCG) is produced by the placenta. Some cancers produce it too.

The FDA prohibited the sale of homeopathic and over-the-counter hCG products in 2011 - and warned Wright to stop selling it - telling him his products "are not considered homeopathic drug products," but are unapproved, misbranded new drugs that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The joint letter from the FTC and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration also told Wright that he and his companies failed to support their weight-loss claims with scientific evidence.

Wright claims in his ads that taking HCG Platinum drops before meals can help people lose "one or two pounds per day for multiple weeks" - if they eat only 500 to 800 calories per day, according to the FTC.

The commission says Wright falsely claims in his ads that "HCG Platinum causes, or assists in causing, rapid weight loss, including one to two pounds per day for multiple weeks; HCG Platinum causes, or assists in causing, users to lose substantial amounts of weight, including as much as 127 pounds; Consumers who use HCG Platinum are likely to obtain the rapid and substantial weight loss reported by consumers who appear in defendants' advertisements; The HCG Platinum weight loss program is safe; and HCG Platinum is clinically proven to burn fat, reduce weight, and lower cholesterol."

HCG Platinum is sold in stores nationwide, including by Rite-Aid and GNC, for $60 to $149 for a 30-day supply. The product has garnered more than $13 million in sales since 2010.

Wright pushes the product on ads in magazines, retail stores, and on Facebook and YouTube.

Named as relief defendants are Weekes Holdings, Primary Colors, KMATT Holdings, Nutrisport Holdings, Ty D. Mattingly, Julie Mattingly, and Annette Wright, all of whom have "received funds that can be traced directly to defendants' unlawful acts or practices alleged below, and ha(ve) no legitimate claim to those funds," according to the lawsuit.

The FTC seeks an injunction to stop defendants from violating the Federal Trade Commission Act, and restitution of the money they made from selling the product.

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