Release: January 27, 2003
Swiss Company Charged by FTC with
Making Unsubstantiated Health Claims
The Federal Trade Commission has
charged a Switzerland-based company and its U.S. counterpart
with making numerous unsubstantiated efficacy claims for a
variety of dietary supplements and devices that they sell on the
Internet. In its complaint filed in federal court, the
Commission alleges that the defendants advertise that their
products and programs can cure advanced and terminal cancers,
AIDS, and other serious diseases. The FTC's complaint names Dr.
Clark Research Association (DCRA), a California corporation that
uses a San Diego, California, address; Dr. Clark
Behandlungzentrum GMbH, a company based in Munchenbuchsee,
Switzerland, and doing business as Dr. Clark Zentrum (DCZ), and
their owner, David P. Amrein.
The products at issue are:
- the "Zapper," (sold as the
"Super-Zapper Deluxe") a device that purportedly kills disease
causing parasites in the body with electricity;
- the "Syncrometer," a device
that purportedly can diagnose diseases;
- "Dr. Clark's New 21 Day
Program for Advanced Cancers," a regimen that includes dietary
supplements. It purportedly cures advanced cases of cancer,
and, when used with the "Super-Zapper Deluxe," renders surgery
and chemotherapy unnecesssary; and
- the "Complete Herbal Parasite
Program" - also called the Herbal Parasite Cleanse.
The FTC's action is part of
"Operation Cure.All," a coordinated, ongoing and comprehensive
law enforcement and consumer education effort with the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, and various state
Attorneys General that began in 1997
to crack down on unscrupulous marketers who use the Internet to
prey on the sickest and most vulnerable consumers.
"Zapping outlandish promises that
appeal to health and safety concerns of U.S. consumers is one of
our top priorities" said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's
Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Unfortunately, questionable
products abound on the Web. The FTC, with its partners, will
continue the fight to protect consumers from these compelling
but deceptive health claims."
Said FDA Commissioner Mark
McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., "The FDA takes a dim view of devices
that make phony claims to cure or treat serious disease or
illness. Besides being a waste of money, such products can
prevent the user from obtaining needed medical treatment. FDA
will continue to monitor the Internet and other sources for
devices that make false medical claims and work with the FTC to
get them off the market."
According to the FTC, the
defendants advertise and sell their products on the Internet at
"www.drclark.net" and "www.drclark.com"
The Web sites contains statements such as:
- "Cancer can now be
cured....just like many other illnesses."
- "Electricity can now be
used.....to kill bacteria, viruses and parasites in minutes,
not days or weeks as antibiotics require." (Zapper claim)
- "We have seen amazing results
in hopeless cases with this program that are nothing short of
miraculous." (The 21 day cure for advanced cancers claim)
The FTC alleges that the
defendants made numerous unsubstantiated claims about the
Zapper, the Syncrometer, the 21 Day Program for Advanced
Cancers, and the Herbal Parasite Cleanse, including through the
use of testimonials. Specifically, the complaint alleges that
the defendants made unsubstantiated representations that:
- use of the Super-Zapper Deluxe
is effective to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the
human body, and is effective against chronic infections,
cancer, and AIDS;
- the Super-Zapper Deluxe, used
together with the Complete Herbal Parasite Program, is
effective to cure all forms of cancer in humans and to cure
- the Supper-Zapper Deluxe, used
together with the Complete Herbal Parasite Program and
avoidance of pollutants, is effective to cure diabetes,
multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, endometriosis, asthma, and
many other diseases;
- Dr. Clark's New 21 Day Program
for Advanced Cancers is effective to cure all forms of cancer
in humans; has cured numerous people diagnosed with advanced
cancer; and when used with the Super-Zapper Deluxe, make
surgery and chemotherapy unnecessary; and
- the Syncrometer device is more
accurate than the best testing methods at diagnosing all forms
of disease; and can detect the presence of any substance at
specific points in the human body.
The FTC charges that the
defendants did not have a reasonable basis to substantiate the
claims made in their advertisements.
The FTC is continuing its
education campaign to alert consumers to health fraud online.
Because promoters of fraudulent health care products often use
similar claims and practices to lure consumers into buying their
products, the FTC advises consumers to be suspicious of:
- Claims that a product is an
effective cure for a wide range of ailments.
- Claims that a product is a
"scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "secret
ingredient," or "ancient remedy."
- Testimonials from people who
claim amazing results. Testimonials often are undocumented and
are not a substitute for scientific proof.
To ensure the safe use of
supplements and other health-related products, consumers should
let their health care provider know if they are using these
products. Additional tips on buying healthcare products on the
Internet and using supplements and other healthcare products are
on the FTC's Virtual Health Treatments Web site,
www.ftc.gov/healthclaims, and FDA's Buying Medicines and
Medical Products Online Web site,
The Commission vote to authorize
staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in
Cleveland, on January 8, 2003.