Consumer Law

Drugmaker's claim that Prevagen boosts memory is fraudulent, FTC lawsuit says


The Federal Trade Commission and the New York State Attorney General have filed suit against dietary supplement makers Quincy Bioscience over its popular supplement, Prevagen.

On Monday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Federal Trade Commission announced that they had jointly filed a complaint (PDF) with the Manhattan federal district court accusing Quincy of false advertising. The suit accused Quincy of falsely claiming that Prevagen could boost cognitive functions and improve memory. According to the press releases, Schneiderman and the FTC are seeking restitution for customers, disgorgement of profits and civil penalties.

“The marketing for Prevagen is a clear-cut fraud, from the label on the bottle to the ads airing across the country,” Schneiderman said in his office’s press release. “It’s particularly unacceptable that this company has targeted vulnerable citizens like seniors in its advertising for a product that costs more than a week’s groceries, but provides none of the benefits its claims.” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau added: “there is no scientific proof that use of the product will improve memory or provide any other cognitive benefit.”

According to the New York Attorney General, Prevagen costs up to $69 per bottle, and Quincy has made $165 million in sales from 2007 to mid-2015. Schneiderman claimed that Quincy has repeatedly cited scientific studies and clinical results to boost their claims, but alleged in the press release that Quincy had based their claims around a single, inconclusive study.

The lawsuit marked Schneiderman’s latest salvo in his ongoing battle for greater transparency within the dietary supplement market. According to his office’s press release, Schneiderman reached settlements with GNC and Nature’s Way in 2015 to perform DNA barcoding as a means of ensuring authenticity, while in 2016, he reached a similar agreement with NBTY, the supplement makers for Walgreens and Walmart.

In a statement, Quincy denied the allegations and promised to fight both the New York Attorney General and the “lame duck” FTC. “Prevagen is safe,” Quincy said in a statement. “Neither the FTC nor the New York Attorney General has alleged that Prevagen can cause or has caused harm to anyone. And hundreds of thousands people tell us it works and improves their lives.”


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