North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG Cooper acts to stop company from pitching phony pills

Release date: 6/15/2005

Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals to pay refunds, stop making false health claims

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today won refunds and better disclosures from a company that sells pills it falsely claimed could improve a variety of health problems including boosting night vision, lowering cholesterol and promoting weight loss.

Cooper joined attorneys general from several other states today to announce a $5 million settlement agreement with Steve Warshak of Cincinnati, Ohio and his dietary supplement firms Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Lifekey Inc., Boland Naturals Inc., Warner Health Care, and Wagner Nutraceuticals (“Berkeley’). Cooper filed suit in June of 2005 against Warshak and his firms for deceiving North Carolina consumers.

“These companies dangled a free trial offer and consumers bit, then got stuck with shipment after shipment of pills they never ordered,” said Cooper. “Now, people can get their money back and the companies will have to stop making dubious claims about the power of their pills.”

The settlement resolves charges that Berkeley made unsubstantiated claims about products’ powers and lured customers with advertisements promising “free” 30-day trials. In reality, Berkeley did not have competent scientific evidence to back up its claims, nor had the supplements been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for safety or effectiveness.

Berkley also failed to tell consumers that they would be billed for additional shipments of pills, and then made it difficult for customers to stop the shipments or seek refunds. Most consumers who complained to Cooper’s office were billed between $70 and $140 for the shipments.

Under terms of today’s settlement, Berkeley must:

• Pay $2.5 million to the states, including $375,000 to North Carolina. If they fail to pay, Berkeley will also owe the states an additional $2.5 million in civil penalties.
• Stop using the word “free” in advertising unless all the terms and conditions related to the offer are disclosed to the consumer and in compliance with applicable laws.
• Stop making health claims they cannot support with scientific evidence.
• Make disclosures to consumers prior to the sale about products the companies will deliver as part of a membership, and about refunds and guarantee procedures.
• Provide refunds to all consumers who have unresolved complaints on file with the Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau, and Berkeley, and to all consumers who file complaints within the next 90 days

A total of 47 North Carolina consumers filed complaints against Berkeley with the Attorney General’s Office. The Better Business Bureau received 154 complaints from North Carolinians. To file a complaint, North Carolina consumers can call Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or download a complaint form at www.ncdoj.com .

Attorneys general for several states joined in the action by filing similar settlements in their state courts. The participating states include North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia. Other states, including California, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi and Vermont, are expected to file similar settlements in their respective state courts soon.

Dietary supplements sold by Berkeley include Altovis, Avlimil, Avlimil Complete, Dromias, Numovil, Pinadol, Rogisen, Rovicid, Suvaril, Nuproxi, and Rudofil.

“Some of these health product companies make grand promises but are no different from snake oil salesman of old,” Cooper warned consumers. “Be skeptical of cure-alls, and check out the company with my office before you buy.”

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