The Federal Trade Commission, the Orange County (California) District Attorney, and the California State Attorney General announced today that they have reached settlements with Body Wise International, Inc., an Orange County business, resolving allegations that Body Wise deceptively advertised the “AG-Immune” dietary supplement. The FTC alleges that Body Wise made unsubstantiated claims that AG-Immune prevents, treats, or cures numerous diseases, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and asthma, in violation of a 1995 FTC order. The FTC’s proposed settlement with Body Wise, if approved by the court, requires Body Wise to pay a $2 million civil penalty to the FTC. California’s proposed settlement would require Body Wise to pay the State of California an additional $1.58 million in penalties and costs for allegedly violating the State’s Business and Professions and Health and Safety Codes. The FTC also reached a settlement with Jesse A. Stoff, M.D., an expert endorser of AG-Immune, to resolve allegations that he made deceptive claims for the product.
“There is no immunity for violators of FTC Orders – especially those making false and unsubstantiated claims that their products cure or treat serious diseases,” said Lydia B. Parnes, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC complaint names Body Wise International, located in Tustin, California, and Jesse A. Stoff, M.D, a resident of Tucson, Arizona. According to the complaint, in April 2000, Body Wise began marketing AG-Immune, a dietary supplement containing “antigen infused dialyzable bovine colostrum/whey extract” or “AI/E-10.” BodyWise marketed this and other AI/E-10 products directly to consumers and through a network of “consultants” who market and sell Body Wise products to consumers. Body Wise sold AG-Immune for approximately $50 for a one-month supply, and had over $14 million in sales.
According to the complaint, Body Wise contracted with Dr. Stoff to explain the purported medical benefits of AI/E-10 and endorse Body Wise products containing AI/E-10. In promotional materials and at seminars, Body Wise and Dr. Stoff allegedly claimed that AG-Immune could prevent or treat numerous diseases or conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and asthma, and that scientific research suggested these claims. The defendants also allegedly claimed that AG-Immune improves immune system function to prevent or treat these and many other diseases and conditions. Dr. Stoff was paid royalties for every bottle of AG-Immune sold.