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FTC files complaint against 'Vitamin O' makers

The Federal Trade Commission says the maker of "Vitamin O" has made "blatantly false and unsubstantiated claims" to promote the dietary supplement.  

March 16, 1999
Web posted at: 10:19 a.m. EST (1519 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Federal Trade Commission is charging health claims and ads for the dietary supplement "Vitamin O" are "blatantly false" and the substance appears to contain little more than saltwater.

The commission on Monday filed a preliminary injunction against Rose Creek Health Products Inc. of Kettle Falls, Washington, sister corporation The Staff of Life Inc. and president and owner Donald Smyth to stop the spread of the company's health claims. The complaint, authorized by a 4-0 vote by the trade commission, was filed in Federal District court in Spokane, Washington.

Ads that the FTC says have appeared on the Internet, as well as USA Today and other newspapers, claim the supplement can cure or prevent ailments such as cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

Rose Creek Health Products says it has sold nearly a million bottles of "Vitamin O" at the cost of about $25 each including shipping.

It says customers benefit from what they call "stabilized oxygen" in the supplement, but it has never claimed the product cures anything.

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"It's more than just saltwater," said Steven Krause, a Rose Creek consultant. "This water does contain a tremendous amount of what they call monoatomic oxygen, and it is packed with it."

However, scientists say the placebo effect is at work with "Vitamin O."

"If you think it will make you feel better, fine. But by and large, is there any kind of scientific basis for it? -- no, not at all," said Dr. Irv Wainer of Georgetown University Medical School, who studies the claims of dietary supplement makers.

The FTC warns buyers beware when purchasing dietary supplements.

"The FTC can be very active in our enforcement efforts," said Michelle Rusk of the FTC. "We can bring cases -- we will continue to do that. But we can't get every problem that's out there."

Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor and Reuters contributed to this report.

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