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Native Essence Herb Company, et al.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed Consent Agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

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DATES:

Comments must be received on or before May 4, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments electronically or in paper form. Comments should refer to“Native Essence, Docket No. 9328” to facilitate the organization of comments. Please note that your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including on the publicly accessible FTC website, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm).

Because comments will be made public, they should not include any sensitive personal information, such as an individual’s Social Security Number; date of birth; driver’s license number or other state identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number; financial account number; or credit or debit card number. Comments also should not include any sensitive health information, such as medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, comments should not include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential. . . .,” as provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Commission Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c).1

Because paper mail addressed to the FTC is subject to delay due to heightened security screening, please consider submitting your comments in electronic form. Comments filed in electronic form should be submitted by using the following weblink: (http://secure.commentworks.com/​ftc-NativeEssence) (and following the instructions on the web-based form). To ensure that the Commission considers an electronic comment, you must file it on the web-based form at the weblink: (http://secure.commentworks.com/​ftc-NativeEssence). If this Notice appears at (http://www.regulations.gov/​search/​index.jsp), you may also file an electronic comment through that website. The Commission will consider all comments that regulations.gov forwards to it. You may also visit the FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov to read the Notice and the news release describing it.

A comment filed in paper form should include the “Native Essence, et al., Docket No. 9328“ reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

The Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”) and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives, whether filed in paper or electronic form. Comments received will be available to the public on the FTC website, to the extent practicable, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm). As a matter of discretion, the Commission makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC website. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC’s privacy policy, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.shtm).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Erika Wodinsky, Western Region, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, (415) 848-5100.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and § 3.25(f) the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 3.25(f), notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for April 3, 2009), on the World Wide Web, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2009/​04/​index.htm). A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before the date specified in the DATES section.

Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, an agreement containing a consent order from Native Essence Herb Company, a corporation, Mark J. Hershiser, individually, d/b/a Native Essence Herb Company, and as an officer of the corporation, and Marianne Hershiser, individually, d/b/a Native Essence Herb Company, and as an officer of the corporation (“respondents”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty days for reception of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement or make final the agreement’s proposed order.

This matter concerns the respondents’ advertising and promotion of Native Essense (Rene Caisse) Formula tea and extract, Native Essense Plus tea and extract, Native Essense with Cat’s Claw tea and extract, chaparral herb, Maitake mushroom extract, and Mai-T Mushroom Plus Formula extract. The complaint alleges that respondents have made a number of deceptive claims regarding the efficacy of these products in the prevention, treatment or cure of cancer.

Specifically, the Commission’s complaint alleges that respondents have claimed that their Native Essense Original Formula, Native Essense Plus, and Native Essense with Cat’s Claw products are effective in treating and curing cancer, including but not limited to lymphoma, colon cancer, rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. The complaint also alleges that respondents have claimed that these products are effective in reducing the size of, or eliminating, cancerous tumors. The complaint further alleges that respondents have claimed that Native Essense Plus is effective in preventing breast cancer. The complaint alleges that respondents did not have a Start Printed Page 16212reasonable basis for these claims. The complaint also alleges that respondents falsely claimed that scientific research proves that Native Essense Plus prevents breast cancer, and that scientific studies prove that Native Essense with Cat’s Claw is effective in the treatment of cancer.

Regarding chaparral herb, the Commission’s complaint alleges that respondents claimed that chaparral herb is effective in treating and curing cancer, is effective in causing people with cancer to go into complete remission without the need for any other form of treatment, and is effective in shrinking or eliminating cancerous tumors. The complaint alleges that respondents lacked a reasonable basis for these claims.

The complaint also alleges that respondents lacked a reasonable basis for the claims that Mai-T Mushroom Plus is effective in preventing, treating and curing cancer, including but not limited to lung cancer, stomach cancer, hepatocellular cancer, leukemia, and Kaposi’s sarcoma; and that Mai-T Mushroom Plus is effective in inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors. Finally, the complaint alleges that respondents falsely claimed that clinical studies prove that Maitake mushrooms and Mai-T Mushroom Plus prevent and treat lung cancer, stomach cancer, hepatocellular cancer, leukemia, and Karposi’s sarcoma, and inhibit tumor growth.

The proposed consent order contains provisions designed to prevent respondents from engaging in similar acts and practices in the future. Part I requires respondents to have competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating any claim that Native Essense (Rene Caisse) Formula tea or extract, Native Essense Plus tea or extract, Native Essense with Cat’s Claw tea or extract, chaparral herb (or any product containing chaparral herb), Maitake mushroom extract, or Mai-T Mushroom Plus Formula extract, or any other covered product or service, is effective in the treatment or cure of cancer; prevents or lowers the risk of cancer; is effective in reducing the size of, or eliminating, cancerous tumors; or is safe or non-toxic or has no side effects. A “covered product or service” is defined as any food, dietary supplement, or drug, including, but not limited to any of the above products, or any other health-related product, service, or program.

Part II requires that any future claim about the efficacy, performance, or health-related benefits of any covered product or service be truthful and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Part III requires that respondents, in connection with the advertising of any product, shall not misrepresent, in any manner, expressly or by implication, the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions, or interpretations of any test, study, or research.

Part IV of the proposed order provides that the order does not prohibit respondents from making representations for any drug that are permitted in labeling for the drug under any tentative or final Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) standard or under any new drug application approved by the FDA, and representations for any product that are specifically permitted in labeling for that product by regulations issued by the FDA under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.

Part V of the proposed order requires respondents to compile a list of all consumers who purchased Native Essense (Rene Caisse) Formula tea or extract, Native Essense Plus tea or extract, Native Essense with Cat’s Claw tea or extract, chaparral herb (or any product containing chaparral herb), Maitake mushroom extract, or Mai-T Mushroom Plus Formula extract from respondents since July 1, 2005, and to mail a letter (attached to the proposed order as Attachment A) to each such purchaser describing the scientific evidence related to these products. Part V also prohibits respondents from providing any identifying information about these purchasers to anyone other than the Commission, another law enforcement agency, or as required by law.

Part VI of the proposed order requires respondents to keep copies of relevant advertisements and materials that substantiate claims made in the advertisements. Part VII requires respondents to provide copies of the order to certain of their employees. Part VIII requires the corporate respondent to notify the Commission at least thirty days prior to any change in the corporation that may affect compliance obligations arising under this order. Part IX requires the individual respondents to notify the Commission of their affiliation with any new business or employment. Part X requires respondents to file compliance reports with the Commission. Part XI of the proposed order is a “sunset” provision, dictating that the order will terminate twenty years from the date it is issued or twenty years after a complaint is filed in federal court, by either the United States or the FTC, alleging any violation of the order.

The purpose of this analysis is to facilitate public comment on the proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the agreement and proposed order or to modify in any way their terms.

By direction of the Commission.

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Richard C. Donohue,

Acting Secretary.

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Footnotes

1. FTC Rule 4.2(d), 16 CFR 4.2(d). The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission’s General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. E9-8140 Filed 4-8-09: 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE: 6750-01-S