TriVita markets 32-ounce bottles of the “prickly pear” fruit drink, derived from the Nopal cactus, for up to $39.99 plus shipping and handling. According to FTC’s complaint, advertisements on the defendants’ websites touted “Inflammation Relief without a Prescription.” The defendants’ infomercials featuring celebrity endorser and former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, marketed Nopalea as an “anti-inflammatory wellness drink” that relieves pain, reduces and relieves joint and muscle swelling, improves breathing and alleviates respiratory problems and relieves skin conditions.
TriVita’s former chief science officer, Brazos Minshew, also appeared in the infomercials and linked inflammation to allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes. He noted in one of the infomercials that “over 200 articles published and archived at the National Institutes of Health demonstrate one thing: the Nopal cactus will reduce inflammation.” The infomercials also featured testimonials by satisfied consumers who are actually paid employees of the defendants, according to the complaint.
“These kinds of unfounded claims are unacceptable, particularly when they impact consumers’ health,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Advertisers who cannot back up their claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence are violating the law.”