Gwyneth Paltrow’s contextual commerce company Goop is still making more than a dozen false and misleading health claims about the medical products and nutritional supplements it sells, according to a complaint letter from the nonprofit advertising watchdog Truth in Advertising, Inc.
The bogus health claims are not just potential hazards to consumers, they are direct violations of a court order that bars Goop from making such false and misleading claims, the watchdog alleges.
That court order was part of a legal settlement Goop entered in September 2018 to resolve a lawsuit brought by 10 California District Attorney offices. The state prosecutors alleged that Paltrow’s “wellness empire” was making several unsubstantiated medical claims about their products. Specifically, the prosecutors noted that Goop claimed without evidence that its infamous vaginal Jade Egg “could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control” and that a blend of essential oils (for oral consumption or for adding to bathwater) could help prevent depression.
The state prosecutors filed the lawsuit nearly a year after Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with state regulators that documented more than 50 unsubstantiated medical claims made by Goop.
Goop settled the claims, admitting no wrongdoing. It agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties, offer refunds to customers who bought the offending products, and agreed to an order barring it from making and/or disseminating false or misleading statements about any medical devices or nutritional supplements. More specifically, Goop is prohibited from representing—expressly or by implication—that said products can diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent any disease, unless the representation is non-misleading and has approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
At the time, Goop said the misleading advertising was merely an “honest disagreement” about the laws governing health claims. California regulators “assisted us in applying those laws to the content we published, and we appreciate their guidance in this matter as we move from a pioneer in this space to an established wellness authority,” Erica Moore, Goop’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.
But, according to Truth in Advertising, aka TINA.org, that guidance didn’t stick.
“Goop seems to have forgotten that it is legally bound by a court order to refrain from engaging in deceptive marketing or, worse, is knowingly violating the order,” Bonnie Patten, TINA.org’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “It is outrageous that Goop continues to exploit health issues in order to make money.”
In its new complaint letter to District Attorneys in California, TINA.org alleges that in more than a dozen instances, Goop “deceptively markets products as able to treat and/or mitigate the symptoms of several medical conditions, including anxiety, depression, OCD, hormone imbalances, and hair loss, as well as address the symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption.”
For instance, Goop’s website includes claims that ingredients in two perfumes and two candles it sells can treat anxiety, depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Goop claims an herbal supplement can treat anxiety, and it still suggests in a product insert that the Jade Egg can treat hormonal imbalance.
Also of note, TINA.org reports that Goop suggests an $88 bottle of vitamins can treat conditions related to menopause and perimenopause, including hair loss and hormonal imbalance.
It’s also worth pointing out that the vitamins contain a potentially dangerous amount of biotin—8,333% of the daily recommended amount. The FDA noted in a past safety communication that such high levels of biotin can interfere with clinical lab tests, such as those used to diagnose heart attacks. In fact, the FDA noted that it “has received a report that one patient taking high levels of biotin died following falsely low troponin test results [a biomarker for heart attacks] when a troponin test known to have biotin interference was used.”
Goop did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.