By Pat Anson, Editor
Some of the shine has come off athletic apparel company Tommie Copper, Inc.
The company has agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle federal charges that it deceptively advertised its copper-infused compression clothing would relieve pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases.
Tommie Copper’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission also requires the company and founder Thomas Kallish to have “competent and reliable” scientific evidence before making any future claims about pain relief, disease treatment, or the health benefits of their products.
Tommie Cooper advertised its copper-infused garments in infomercials, brochures, social media, and print media such as Arthritis Today magazine. The ads claimed the clothing alleviated pain caused by multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia; and could provide pain relief comparable to or better than drugs or surgery.
Some of the infomercials feature talk show host Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, declaring, “Tommie Copper truly is pain relief without a pill.”
“It’s tempting to believe that wearing certain clothing will eliminate severe pain, but Tommie Copper didn’t have science to back its claims,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If you see an ad for a product that promises to replace the need for drugs or surgery, talk to a healthcare professional before you spend your money.”
The company’s website now only claims its products “can be worn all day to provide relief from everyday aches and pains.” The clothing, including sleeves, braces, shirts and socks, range in price from $29.95 to $69.50.
The proposed federal court order imposes an $86.8 million judgment against Tommie Copper, which will be suspended upon payment of $1.35 million by the company within seven days . The company neither admitted or denied any of the allegations in the settlement.
The so-called “healing power” and pain relieving power of copper can be traced back thousands of years. But a 2013 study by British researchers found that copper does nothing to alleviate the pain, swelling, or disease progression of rheumatoid arthritis. The study, published in PLOS ONE, found that copper bracelets worn by 70 patients provide no more meaningful therapeutic effect than a placebo.