Jan. 22, 2015
Public Citizen Urges FTC to Investigate Life Line Screening’s Ads for Cardiovascular Disease and Osteoporosis Screening Package
Life Line Screening’s Advertising and Promotional Materials Appear Deceptive, Contain Unsubstantiated Medical Claims
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the direct-to-consumer marketing of the national cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening company Life Line Screening. The Austin, Texas-based company’s advertising materials make unsubstantiated claims about the medical benefits of its primary screening package and omit information about the risks of adverse health-related outcomes and financial harms that may result from the screenings, Public Citizen said in its letter to the FTC.
According to Life Line Screening’s website and print solicitations mailed directly to consumers, the company has “helped save thousands of lives” since 1993 and has prevented strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease. These statements are misleading because Life Line Screening does not have evidence from well-controlled clinical tests proving that the screening tests save lives and prevent strokes and cardiovascular disease when used in the general population its solicitations target. The FTC generally has required such evidence for those types of medical claims.
In addition, Life Line Screening’s advertising and promotional materials omit important information such as the type of individuals for whom certain screening tests are appropriate, evidence-based guidelines describing if and when such tests should be performed, and the risks of adverse health-related outcomes and financial harms that can result from false-positive test results and from overdiagnosis.
“The FTC Act prohibits advertisements that contain false or misleading representations or material omissions,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “Life Line Screening has violated these prohibitions and has relied on such materials to successfully dupe large numbers of consumers across the country into undergoing unnecessary and inappropriate cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening tests, exposing them to risks of adverse health-related outcomes and financial harms.”
“Hospitals and other health care institutions that promote Life Line Screening’s cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis screening package do a great disservice to the communities that they serve and to public health more broadly,” said Carome. “We hope that not only will hospitals sever their relationships in the near future but that the FTC will recognize the damage this company is doing and investigate immediately.”