COURT AFFIRMS ORDER REQUIRING ALOE COMPANY TO CEASE MIRACLE CURE CLAIMS, PAY RESTITUTION & $3.7 MILLION PENALTY
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Maryland's Court of Special Appeals affirmed his Consumer Protection Division's Order requiring T-Up, Inc., a company formerly of Baltimore, to stop making claims that its aloe and mineral health products can be used to treat or cure diseases such as cancer and AIDS. The Order requires T-Up, Inc. and its officers, Neal Deoul and Allen Hoffman, to pay millions of dollars in restitution to consumers and $3.7 million in civil penalties for violating the Consumer Protection Act by misleading consumers with unsubstantiated claims concerning their products' safety and effectiveness.
The Court of Special Appeals decision is the first appellate decision in Maryland addressing the amount of proof that a company must have prior to making efficacy claims about a health product.
In May 2000, the Consumer Protection Division issued the Order against T-Up, Inc., which appealed the Order to the Baltimore County Circuit Court, which affirmed the Order in March 2001. T-Up, Inc. then appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which affirmed the Order.
T-Up, Inc. principally marketed a concentrated aloe product, called "T-Up," by claiming it could cure cancer, AIDS and other diseases. The product was administered orally or intravenously. Hoffman and Deoul marketed their products to consumers, many of whom were terminally ill, as a miracle cure at a cost of thousands of dollars for each treatment. The Consumer Protection Division found that T-Up, Inc., Hoffman and Deoul had no scientifically valid studies showing that aloe products are effective treatments or cures for any of the diseases for which they marketed their products. As the court observed, at least one person died during the intravenous treatment.
"This ruling affirms that companies cannot make unsubstantiated claims that their products can cure diseases or illnesses," said Curran. "I am happy that the court upheld our efforts to stop this company that profited from the desperation of seriously ill consumers by selling phony miracle cures."
According to exhibits filed in the Attorney General's case, during one 18-month period alone (April 1997 to October 1998), T-Up sold more than $2.3 million worth of its product to more than 3,700 customers.