Washington, D.C. — Madison, WI-based Quincy Bioscience Holding Co. subsidiary, Prevagen, Inc., which is also doing business as Sugar River Supplements, has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and New York State Attorney General with making false and unsubstantiated claims that Prevagen memory-improvement supplement helps to improve memory and cognition. The 32-page complaint that was filed claims that Quincy Bioscience Holdings LLC, along with officers Mark Underwood and Michael Beaman, are guilty of being deceptive in its claims that a study performed by Quincy Bioscience did not actually prove the effectiveness of Prevagen versus the placebo it was tested with.
The FTC and NY Attorney General are looking to obtain permanent injunctive relief, rescission or reformation of contract, restitution, the refunds of monies paid, disgorgement of ill-gotten monies, and other equitable relief for the acts or practices of Quincy Bioscience.
The dietary supplement Prevagen has been advertised as containing an active ingredient originally obtained from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish known as apoaequorin. It is available in Regular, Extra and Professional Strength in both capsule and chewable versions. Each bottle of Prevagen ranges from approximately $24 to $59 for 30 tablets, with directions to take one tablet daily. Since 2007, Quincy Bioscience has sold a reported $165 million worth of Prevagen to customers who believed in the beneficial claims the drug was supposed to provide based on the study reported by Quincy Bioscience.
Prevagen has been advertised in infomercials, commercials, social media and a “Better Memory Tour” since its release in 2007. The FTC and NY Attorney General states that there is no “clinical evidence” to support Prevagen’s claim of improving memory and providing cognitive effects.
“The marketers of Prevagen preyed on the fears of older consumers experiencing age-related memory loss,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But one critical thing these marketers forgot is that their claims need to be backed up by real scientific evidence.”
The scientific clinical study in question is the Madison Memory Study conducted by Quincy Bioscience in which 218 test subjects took either 10 milligrams of Prevagen or a placebo to see if there were benefits to cognition, memory and learning. After an assessment on nine computerized cognitive tasks at varying intervals over 90 days, the Madison Memory Study did not show any significant improvement in the treatment group over the placebo group. When this study was indecisive, over 30 post hoc analyses of the results were performed. The FTC and NY Attorney General believe that these analyses were done to increase probability of statistical difference by chance alone and not by the active ingredient in Prevagen.
A press release on the Quincy Bioscience Prevagen website states that “The sole dispute rests on the interpretation and analysis of the data, with the regulators attempting to hold the company to a standard that is unreasonable, scientifically debatable, and legally invalid. Their experts simply disagree with ours over how to interpret the study results. The FTC should not be the arbiter in matters of scientific debate. We are proud of the work we have done to support Prevagen’s effects and believe our large body of evidence clearly satisfies the longstanding standard to support such claims. The FTC has already brought three similar cases against three other companies in which the Commission tried to impose its own rigid interpretation of a company’s scientific evidence to prohibit truthful, non-misleading claims. In each case, the FTC lost. This matter is of keen public interest and the facts of this case underscore the importance of proceeding carefully. There is no reason for a short-staffed and lame-duck FTC to rush this complaint through.”
If the FTC and NY State Attorney General succeed in their case, the target audience of elderly consumers who have purchased Prevagen could be looking at a restitution of funds.