Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved final administrative consent orders against three companies, BASF SE, its subsidiary, BASF Corp. and DIEM Labs, which together have agreed to pay more than $416,000 to settle charges that they deceptively marketed two dietary fish oil supplements as clinically proven to reduce liver fat in adults and children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, announced in April 2021, BASF SE, which developed and owns the supplements Hepaxa and Hepaxa PD, acted through its North American subsidiary, BASF Corp., to retain DIEM Labs to advertise and distribute both supplements in the United States. Until mid-2020, the FTC’s complaint alleges, the companies deceptively advertised the two products as clinically proven to reduce liver fat in adults and children with NAFLD, without the scientific evidence needed to back up the claims.
The final orders cover Hepaxa, Hepaxa PD, and any other product containing one or more omega-3 fatty acids or promoted to benefit cardiac, metabolic or hepatic (liver) health or functions. They prohibit the companies from claiming that such products reduce liver fat in adults or children with NAFLD or cures, treats, or mitigates any disease, unless the claim is true and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence in the form of randomized human clinical testing. The monetary judgment the orders imposes will enable the Commission to provide refunds to all consumers who bought either supplement.
The Commission vote approving the final consent order was 4-0. (The staff contact is Janet Evans, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2125.)