FTC Charges Two Individuals with Marketing
Food Supplement as Phony AIDS Treatment and Cure

FTC News Release
October 5, 1993

The Federal Trade Commission has charged in federal district court that Mary L. Redhead, of Yelm, Washington, and Thelma M. Magno, of Portland, Oregon, have falsely promoted "Imuno-Plex," an algae-based food supplement, as a treatment or cure for HIV disease, AIDS and AIDS-related complex (ARC) and their symptoms. In addition, the FTC has charged Magno with aiding and abetting the deception by providing a variety of services, including processing consumers' mail orders and payments for Imuno-Plex, shipping the product to consumers and distributing promotional literature. The defendants sell a month's supply of Imuno-Plex capsules for $195, the FTC said.

The FTC is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction halting the alleged practices, pending the court's resolution of the FTC's request for a permanent injunction and redress for consumers. The permanent injunction, if granted, would prohibit the defendants from engaging in similar deceptive practices in the future in the advertising or sale of food, drugs, devices or cosmetics.

According to the FTC complaint, Redhead, doing business as EarthBound, an unregistered and unlicensed business, lists a mailing address at Lloyd Center, in Portland. Her principal place of business is in Yelm, WA. Magno, also known as Thelma Magno-Humphries, likewise does business as Earthbound and is the sole owner of Post Office and More, a firm listed at the same Portland address as Redhead and Earthbound.

The FTC alleged that since at least January 1993, the defendants advertised Imuno-Plex in gay-oriented newspapers in San Francisco and New York and processed telephone orders resulting from the ads. The FTC complaint cites numerous statements in the Imuno-Plex ads, and from an informational brochure the defendants disseminated to prospective customers, that allegedly maintain that use of the product will cure or alleviate a variety of conditions and symptoms related to AIDS and ARC, including thrush — a fungal disease — and lesions from Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer. In addition, the defendants' ads and brochure allegedly represent that Imuno-Plex will retard the progress of AIDS dementia and arrest or reverse the progress of AIDS or ARC. The ads and brochure also represent that the effectiveness of Imuno-Plex has been demonstrated by scientifically-valid clinical studies, according to the FTC complaint.

In its complaint filed in federal court, the FTC charged that these representations are false.

The FTC's Seattle Regional Office conducted the investigation and is handling the case. The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the District of Oregon, in Portland, on Oct. 4. The FTC received cooperation and assistance from the US Food and Drug Administration and the office of the Attorney General of Oregon.

The Commission vote to file the complaint was 5-0.

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