The developers and marketers of the LearningRx “brain training” programs have agreed to stop making a range of false and unsubstantiated claims and pay $200,000 under a settlement with the FTC.
According to the complaint, LearningRx Franchise Corp, and its CEO, Dr. Ken Gibson, deceptively claimed that their programs were clinically proven to permanently improve serious health conditions like ADHD, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, and concussion and that the training ha substantially improved school grades and college admission test scores, career earings, and job and athletic performance. They also allegedly claimed that LearningRx brain training is 10 times more cost-effective than tutoring.
“Companies that say they can significantly improve serious health conditions or how your brain functions in everyday situations need to back up those claims with sound science,” said JessicaRich, Durector of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “In thic case, the defendants couldn’t show their training provides the health or other real-word benefits they claimed.”
According to the FTC, the defended promoted LearningRx through LearningRx.com and affiliated wwebsites, as well as through a blog, Facebook and Twitter posts, print and radio ads, and direct mail pieces. They also allegedly used Google search ads to target consumers searching for terms such as “cure for ADD,” “autism cure,” and “severe traumatic brain injury cure.” The defendants, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, offered Learning Rx training through more than 80 LearningRx center that it franchised in 25 states.
The proposed order settling the FTC’s charges prohibits the defendants from claiming that their programs improve performance at work or in athletics, or improve the cognitive function of individuals with age-related or other health conditions, unless the claims are not misleading and substantiated by human clinical testing.
The order further prohibits the defendants from making unsubstantiated claims about the performance, benefits, or efficacy of their programs, including claims about improvement in school grades or scores on standardized academic tests, performance on everyday tasks, increased income, or superiority to academic tutoring. Finally the order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting the existence or results for any tests or studies, and from providing others with the means to make the prohibited claims. The order imposed a $4,000,000 judgment against the company, which will be suspended upon the payment of $200,000 as disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.
The commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final judgement and order was 3-0. The complaint and order were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Districts of Colorado.