Refunds Issued for Alleged Opiate Withdrawal Supplement

By Paul Gaita 10/12/17

Elimidrol was advertised as a product which could allegedly help users "permanently overcome withdrawal" and "leave addiction behind permanently."

close up of woman stirring medication in cup with spoon and paper tissue on wooden table

Federal regulators will issue more than 5,000 checks totaling more than $210,000 to individuals who purchased a powdered drink mix, which its makers claimed could help not only alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms, but could also increase users' chances of overcoming addiction.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a statement on September 28 that said that the payments are a required element of a court order settling charges against Sunrise Nutraceuticals, LLC, which the FTC claimed had made the aforementioned claims about their product, Elimidrol. The company, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida, has also been banned from making such claims without "competent and reliable scientific evidence."

Sunrise Nutraceuticals initially came into the FTC's crosshairs as one of 100 supplement companies the commission sued in 2015 for allegedly making unsubstantiated health claims about their products. According to the suit, the company allegedly claimed in online advertising that its 8-ounce bottles of Elimidrol—a powdered blend of herbal extracts including ginger root and magnolia bark—had a "high success rate…in overcoming opiate withdrawal" and "[turned] up the chances of a successful recovery." 

The advertisements also made allegations that Elimidrol could help users "permanently overcome withdrawal—the first time" and "leave addiction behind permanently," and promoted their product through allegedly deceptive testimonials from opioid-dependent customers, including one which reportedly stated that the product "SAVED my life."

In all cases, the FTC charged that the claims in Sunrise's advertising were unsubstantiated, and requested via court order that the company stop making claims about Elimidrol's efficacy in opioid dependency treatment unless they were able to provide reliable human clinical testing and competent scientific evidence to support such statements.

"Opiate addiction has taken a tremendous toll on the American public," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in July 2016 after Sunrise Nutraceuticals settled the commission's complaint. "By peddling their unproven product, these defendants have prevented people from seeking legitimate treatment."

In addition to suspending the allegedly false claims, the company also agreed to a judgment of $1,398,037, with all but $235,000 suspended based on the defendants' ability to pay, unless they are found to have misrepresented their financial status. 

The FTC began issuing refund checks—the average amount totaling $39—on September 28. The checks must be cashed by November 27, 2017, or they will become void.

Consumers may contact the commission at 866-880-0103 with any questions regarding the refund.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.