“Diabetics, this is the miracle product you’ve been waiting for—Nobetes!”
This claim was from a commercial for Nobetes, the supplement that advertised its all-natural ingredients could dramatically reduce blood sugar levels for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) got wind of the scheme in 2016, it sent Nobetes Corporation a warning letter. When the warning was ignored, the FTC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court.
The original FTC letter accused the company of selling their nutritional supplement, made up of a mix of vitamins, minerals, and plants extracts, as a drug. Though the disclaimer on the Nobetes bottle claimed the product was not meant to cure any disease, the company’s advertising strongly suggested otherwise.
The FTC cites several concerning testimonial claims used in the company’s advertising:
- “When I started taking Nobetes my blood sugar levels were up to 285. After only one day of taking Nobetes, my blood sugar dropped to 115.” (From a woman claiming to have type 1 diabetes.)
- “I went down from 549 on blood sugar count to 88 and a half with using Nobetes, an all-natural supplement. I can tell you it’s worked better than any prescribed medicine I’ve taken.”
- “My sugar levels were 227 to 85 in less than 10 days. At nighttime I had tingling in my arms, and dry mouth, and even blurry vision. This has all gone away just be taking a pill. Nobetes is a natural product… I got off my other medications.”
- A “medical expert” (actually an actor) said that Nobetes pills could “fill the nutritional shortages that diabetes causes.”
Some of the company’s advertising also claimed the product allowed people to reduce their use of insulin.
The FTC accused the company of selling their product to treat diseases that “are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment without the supervision of a licensed practitioner.” The FTC informs Nobetes Corporation that it’s illegal to make claims that a product can cure a disease without reliable scientific evidence.
The FTC’s complaint and order, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, was authorized with a 5-0 vote. The court order bans the Nobetes Corporation from doing the following:
- Undertaking future deceptive practices
- Making unsubstantiated health claims
- Misleading consumers about “free trial” offers
- Billing consumers without their consent
- Using misleading tactics using endorsements from “experts” and consumers
The company was also ordered to pay $182,000, some of which may be used to provide consumer refunds.
The video below is one of Nobetes’s shorter commercials. The claims may seem overtly sensationalized, but for someone desperate for an affordable product to control diabetes, the desire for a miracle pill may have overcome their skepticism.
Watch the video below to see the banned health claims
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.