FTC Prohibits Marketers of Herbal Products and
the "Zapper" from Making Unsubstantiated Claims

FTC News Release
December 28, 2001

A Seattle couple who sold a variety of herbal products and an electrical unit called the "Zapper" as a cure for such ailments as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, and diabetes are prohibited from making any claims that their products are effective in treating or alleviating any disease or condition, unless they have scientific evidence to support the claims, as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleged in a complaint filed in federal court that Western Dietary Products Co. (Skookum), based in Blaine, Washington, and its owners marketed the "Zapper Electrical Unit" and their "cure packages" as treatments and/or cures for various serious diseases, and claimed that use of their herbal products made surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary for persons with cancer. The FTC complaint alleged that these claims were unsubstantiated.

In June 2001, the FTC filed a complaint against Western Dietary Products, doing business as Western Herb & Dietary Products, Inc., and Marvin and Miguelina Beckwith, alleging that they marketed and sold various herbal formulas and herbal cure products through the web site "www.curecancer.com." The defendants claimed that all diseases are caused by a specific type of parasite and that herbal remedies, along with use of the "Zapper," would cure them immediately.

The proposed stipulated final judgment and order, which requires the court's approval, would prohibit the defendants from making any claims that their products are effective in treating or alleviating any disease or condition, unless they can substantiate the claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence. In addition, the proposed settlement would prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting that use of their products in the treatment of cancer makes surgery or chemotherapy unnecessary. The proposed order includes a suspended judgment in the amount of $50,000, which would become due if the court finds that the defendants made material misrepresentations or omissions in their financial statements. The proposed settlement also contains various record keeping and reporting requirements designed to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.

The Commission vote to authorize the staff to file the proposed stipulated final judgment and order was 5-0. It was filed in the US District Court, Western District of Washington, in Seattle, on December 26, 2001.

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This page was posted on November 20, 2005.

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