Sued By AG, Texas Company Takes Its Game Elsewhere

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So you own a company in Coppell that sells “wellness” products, such as skin cream and nutritional supplements, and you were sued by the Texas Attorney General in 2007 for alleged false advertising, because your promotional materials implied your products could treat cancer, muscular dystrophy, and a bunch of other things. And in case you didn’t know before, the

AG’s 57-page complaint

explains how a company can’t tout a product’s effectiveness in treating a disease unless it’s first tested by the FDA – what a pain in the neck!

So what do you do? If you’re Mannatech, you continue your expansion into markets outside the U.S. – like Singapore, which the company announced Monday. Mannatech is already selling its Optimal Health System, which according to a press release is “comprised of Advanced Ambrotose glyconutritional dietary supplement,” and which we are sure is absolutely, positively not a placebo.

The Texas AG’s office sued Mannatech after an investigation by the Texas Department of State Health Services turned up e-mails from salespeople who made claims that an ingredient in certain Mannatech products “changes cancer cells and can inhibit tumor growth.”

In March, Mannatech settled an $11.25-million class-action suit brought by investors who accused the company of issuing false and misleading statements while encouraging salespeople’s improprieties. As part of the settlement, Mannatech admitted no wrongdoing. (Oh yeah, the salespeople are actually called “associates,” since the company uses a multi-level-marketing system, like Mary Kay).

Hair Balls asked a Mannatech representative if such bold claims will be made in the Singapore market, and Wayne Badovinus, the company’s CEO and president, was kind enough to respond in writing, to wit:

Mannatech products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Associates in Singapore are prohibited from making any claims which link the benefits of Mannatech products with any disease or disease process. Associates in Singapore are required to use only materials approved by Mannatech when promoting Mannatech’s products or its business opportunity. Mannatech will comply with all laws and regulations related to the sale of its products and the promotion of its business opportunity in Singapore.

But that doesn’t mean the company can still have fun with health claims – just check out what www.mannatech.com says about its FiberSlim capsules: “It also helps you maintain blood sugar and cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range.”* (The asterisk stands for “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”)

So now we’re double-checking Badovinus’s statement for an asterisk as well…

-- Craig Malisow

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