FTC Orders Refunds for Customers Duped by ‘Speech’ Pills

Dietary supplements were marketed as treatment for kids' speaking disorders associated with autism. Sound too good to be true?

FTC Orders Refunds for Customers Duped by ‘Speech’ Pills Photo (cc) by SuperFantastic

Consumers who lost money buying Speak and Speak Smooth dietary supplements, deceptively marketed as effective treatment for childhood speech disorders including those associated with autism, will soon receive checks for $25.18 each, the Federal Trade Commission says.

The refunds are from money collected through a settlement under which NourishLife, LLC of Illinois agreed to pay $200,000 and stop making allegedly deceptive claims that their products develop and maintain normal, healthy speech and language capabilities in children, the FTC said.

“Parents of children with speech disorders need accurate information about products that may be able to help,” Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said when charges were brought. “This company took advantage of parents’ trust.”

NourishLife and its owner, Mark Nottoli, sold Speak softgels and capsules and Speak Smooth liquid children’s supplements online and through a network of distributors for more than $70 per bottle, the FTC said. The supplements contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and vitamins E and K. They were advertised through Google-sponsored links and on websites and at conferences on autism spectrum disorders.

A Google sponsored link for Speak products could display if consumers searched on the term “toddler speech problems,” the FTC said. The ad contained the statement, “Healthy Speech for Child – SpeechNutrients speak Supplement” and linked to a web page claiming the supplements were developed by a pediatrician to support “normal and healthy speech development and maintenance.” That web page also included a statement from a parent endorsing the product, who said “[my daughter] is speaking in more complex sentences and she is less gittery [sic], more focused.”

Other statements from parent endorsers appearing in product brochures and on speechnutrients.com included:

“Speak vitamins have made my little boy talk. He is five years old and has not spoken until I began giving him the vitamins.”

“We were really amazed when Ben started singing along with a song on the radio … and he was singing 3+ word phrases, not just one word here & there.”

The refund checks are good for 60 days.

Are you tempted by nutritional supplements that seem too good to be true? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page?

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