Tommie Copper advertised its copper-infused compression garments with the slogan: “Life Hurts. Find Relief.” Now, the company is itself hurting, after the FTC announced a settlement that requires it to pay over $1 million in monetary relief and to change the way it substantiates its claims.
Tommie Copper claimed that the “patented 56 percent copper-infused nylon yarn” and “exclusive multi-directional compression technology” in its compression garments could effectively treat chronic or severe pain, including pain caused by arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In some cases, the company also claimed that the garments were more effective than drugs or surgery.
The ads frequently featured testimonials from people who claimed that Tommie Copper products had relieved them of serious pain. Even TV celebrity Montel Williams recounted how Tommie Copper has helped in his 13-year battle against the pain caused by multiple sclerosis, saying that “Tommie Copper is truly pain relief without a pill.”
According to the FTC, though, the company didn’t have the evidence to support these claims. As part of its settlement, Tommie Copper agreed not to make similar claims unless they were supported by human clinical testing that is randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, and conducted by qualified researchers. The settlement also addresses standards for other types of claims, and imposes an $86.8 million judgment, which will be partially suspended upon payment of $1.35 million.
This isn’t the first case the FTC has brought involving health or performance claims for apparel. (In fact, we’ve posted about previous settlements involving claims made by Skechers and Reebok.) But it does underscore the importance of having adequate substantiation for these types of claims, as well as the significant consequences of not doing so.