Advertisers of "The Stimulator" Pain Relief Device Settle FTC Charges

FTC News Release
December 5, 1996

Natural Innovations, Inc., company president Dr William S. Gandee, and World Media TV, Inc., have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges stemming from the advertising and sale of "The Stimulator," a purported pain relief device widely advertised in an infomercial titled "Saying No To Pain." According to the FTC, the infomercial advertised without adequate substantiation that the Stimulator effectively relieves virtually all types of pain and provides immediate, long-term pain relief superior to that provided by medications and other treatments. Proposed agreements to settle the FTC's charges would require the respondents to have scientific proof to back up any pain relief or other health or medical benefit claims they make in the future.

"Unsubstantiated pain relief claims in these ads are of serious concern," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Millions of Americans who suffer from different types of chronic or recurring pain, desperately search for relief. Consumers who bought the Stimulator believing these extravagant promises may have wasted their money, and worse, missed out on more effective treatments. The FTC will continue to be vigilant in requiring solid scientific support for health and safety claims."

Natural Innovations, Inc. is headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Dr Gandee, an Akron-based chiropractor, is president of Natural Innovations and appeared on the infomercial. World Media TV, based in Carlsbad, California, creates, produces, and distributes advertising, including infomercials. The separate FTC complaint naming World Media in connection with this case alleges that the company directly participated in the creation and dissemination of the "Say No to Pain" infomercial on behalf of Natural Innovations.

The Stimulator, which sold for about $80, emits a weak electric spark when activated. Users are instructed to "touch the tip of the STIMULATOR to the general area in which you feel pain" and depress a plunger to generate electric sparks. The infomercial, hosted by television personality Lee Meriwether, featured endorsements by daredevil Evel Knievel, former basketball great Bill Walton, and several consumers who had used the Stimulator.

According to the FTC's complaint, the infomercial contained statements such as:

The FTC complaints allege that, through these and other statements, the respondents have made the following claims:

According to the FTC complaint, the respondents did not have a reasonable basis for these claims.

The proposed settlements would prohibit Natural Innovations, Dr Gandee, and World Media TV, from making pain relief or pain elimination claims for the Stimulator or any other device without competent and reliable scientific evidence — including, in most cases, well-controlled clinical testing — to support the claims. In addition, the respondents would be required to have scientific support for any future health or medical benefits claims for any product. They would also be prohibited from representing that any endorsement or testimonial represents the typical experience of those who have used the product unless the claim is substantiated or it is accompanied by a prominent disclaimer.

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