WASHINGTON -- Claims that a calcium supplement made from dead marine coral can cure everything from heart disease to cancer are too good to be true, federal fraud fighters said on June 11th as they announced legal actions against marketers of the product.
The Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal court in Chicago to shut down an operation that sells Coral Calcium Supreme, a product advertised with one of the most widely run infomercials on cable television this year. The FTC and the Food and Drug Administration also are sending dozens of warning letters to retail and Internet marketers of coral calcium products, ordering them to remove false or deceptive advertising. Many claims for the products go far beyond any scientific evidence on the health benefits of calcium, the FTC said.
''The danger here is using an ineffective treatment for a really serious condition,'' said Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. ''Calcium is good stuff -- it builds strong bones, but it doesn't cure cancer.'' The FTC lawsuit accuses prominent marketers of making unproven health claims.
The FTC's complaint said the promotions falsely claimed the product will treat or cure all forms of cancer and diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, heart disease, and chronic high blood pressure. The ads also made allegedly false claims that scientific research shows that calcium supplements can cure cancer.