Attorney General announces agreement with Ceragem
SEATTLE – A thermal massaging bed might work wonders for a sore back but the Attorney General’s Office says when it comes to hype, manufacturers are limited to promoting their medical products to uses approved by federal regulators. The office announced an agreement today with Ceragem International, Inc., a California corporation accused of marketing its product through the use of testimonials by consumers who claimed the beds cured or treated various ills.
“A pricey massaging bed may temporarily relieve pain but it’s still a bed – not a miracle cure,” Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini said. “Promoters are responsible for ensuring ‘real person’ testimonials don’t claim cures outside the scope of a product’s approved uses.”
The Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation in November 2006 concerning the marketing of Ceragem beds at retail outlets in Spokane and Kent. The company encourages consumers to receive a free massage on one of the beds – priced last year at $2,800 or $3,400, depending on features – then to share their experiences with potential customers in the form of live and videotaped testimonials.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the marketing of Ceragem’s beds, based on its claimed impact on muscle relaxation, temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain and a temporary increase in local circulation. But undercover AG staff allegedly witnessed distributors eliciting testimonials from individuals who claimed the beds corrected a variety of other conditions including tumors and Alzheimer’s.
Ceragem denied any wrongdoing but agreed to a legal agreement that restricts its marketing practices and to pay $16,000 in state attorneys’ fees plus refunds to any buyers who request them. The agreement also states that Ceragem shall respond in good faith to buyers’ requests for refunds, requests to cancel, complaints or inquiries, and offer to resolve the matter in good faith where appropriate.
The agreement filed in Thurston County Superior Court requires the company to train its distributors to avoid seeking testimonials that imply that its products can cure or treat any disease or condition other than those approved by the FDA. New signs will be posted in distributorships that describe approved uses for the products.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office settled with Ceragem in November 2005 resolving similar violations.
Ceragem Assurance of Discontinuance
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Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432
Jack Zurlini, Assistant Attorney General, (509) 458-3538