Federal government fines diet pill makers

NEW YORK - The Federal Trade Commission made four popular diet pills even harder to swallow Thursday, slapping them with more than $25 million in fines for making extravagant and false weight-loss claims.

The makers of Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa and One-A-Day WeightSmart agreed to pay the hefty fines to settle false advertising charges. They also agreed to put limits on future marketing.

CortiSlim and sister product CortiStress were also blasted by the FTC for wrongly claiming to reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis, cancer and diabetes.

FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras said the products' claims "aren't supported by sound science."

"Paying for bad science and miracle ingredients is a good way to lose nothing but your cash," she said. "If you want to lose weight, focus on a healthy diet and exercise."

Dr. Wahida Karmally, nutrition director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, said such punishment was long overdue.

"You see this exploitation all the time in these ads," said Karmally. "They're preying on the public, which is looking for a magic pill to rid extra pounds."

She said such products suffer from little to no clinical research to back their weight-loss claims.

"A lot of this stuff comes from a little work on a few mice, and mice are not men," Karmally said.

Majoras said the products would remain on store shelves, but that the companies would have to stop making the false claims.

Cytodyne LLC, which has sold and marketed Xenadrine EFX since 2003, was hit the hardest, settling for $8 million to $12.8 million in fines. Cytodyne did not return calls.