Texas AG, weight loss clinics come to agreements

Bryan Cohen Oct. 27, 2011, 1:00pm


AUSTIN (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced agreements on Thursday with several weight loss clinics and a distributor of a weight loss product in Texas requiring that the companies significantly alter their marketing.

The clinics allegedly advertised chorionic gonadtrophin, a prescription hormone, for weight loss despite the fact that hCG has never been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a weight loss drug. The distributor allegedly advertised and sold a homeopathic version of hCG as a weight loss product, which is also not FDA-approved.

Biohealth of Texas LLC, which operated in at least a dozen cities in north Texas; Weight Control of Texas Inc., based in San Antonio; Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery P.A. of Houston; Dragon's Breath Massage of Keller; and Optimum Health Care LLC of Pantego agreed to stop advertising hCG for weight loss. Professional Health Products Southwest of Arlington also agreed to stop distributing and advertising homeopathic hCG.

The FDA never approved the marketing of hCG for human weight loss and requires a black box warning on prescription labels that clearly state that it is not approved for weight loss.

Although physicians are typically allowed to prescribe products for non-FDA-approved purposes, drugs cannot be advertised or marketed for a medical use unless that purpose has been approved by the FDA.

As a result, weight loss clinics and physicians may not advertise hCG for weight loss because the FDA has stated that there is no substantial evidence indicating that the hormone leads to weight loss beyond that which stems from severe dieting. The drug's FDA-approved uses are primarily for ovarian or testicular abnormalities.

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