Consumer fraud lawsuit filed against maker of ‘drinkable sunscreen’
A consumer fraud lawsuit has been launched in the U.S. against the maker of the so-called “drinkable sunscreen,” a product which can also apparently repel mosquitos and cure acne, among other medical ailments.
Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller filed the lawsuit against Colorado-based Osmosis LLC, Harmonized Water LLC and the owner Benjamin Taylor Johnson on Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges the company marketed “UV Neutralizer” without any valid testing to prove any of the product’s claims and that the company “recklessly gave consumers hollow assurances that they were protected from known health hazards.”
“Benjamin Johnson is in the business of selling ordinary water at premium prices by claiming that he has treated the water in ways the imbue it with amazing medicinal or cosmetic properties,” Miller claims in the suit. “Johnson claims that ingesting his water can protect against cancer-causing UV rays, repel mosquitos that might carry the Zika virus, protect the body from pathogens, cure acne reverse the aging process and perform various other near-miraculous feats.”
According to Harmonized Water website, “UV Neutralizer” will allow for “increased sun exposure (30x more than normal)” and “enhances tanning effect [sic] from the sun.”
The product page also features testimonials from customers citing the benefits of the “drinkable sunscreen.”
“I was thrilled to hear about the UV water and tested it on my son who had a sport camp every day for a week. The temperature that week was ranging from 98 to 102 degrees. When he came home and his skin was neither red nor burnt. My son told me: ‘the water really works!’ No need to apply sunscreen,” a testimonial reads.
A product disclaimer is also noted on the product page, warning that “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
Miller alleges in the lawsuit that the disclaimers associated with company’s products “suffice to overcome the deceptive and otherwise unlawful aspects of the defendants’ conduct.”
The Iowa lawsuit also claims that Johnson is referred to as a doctor without disclosing the man was “forced to surrender his Colorado license to practice medicine in 2001.”
The Iowa attorney general refers to the company’s product claims as “pseudo-science at its worst.”
“This lawsuit alleges that dramatic claims for various ‘harmonized’ water products cannot be substantiated…and that Johnson and his companies inexcusably put consumers, young and old, at risk of wasting their money and, in many instances, endangering their health,” Miller claims in the lawsuit.
According to the U.S. Skin Cancer Foundation, one and five Americans will develop skin cancer in a course of a life time and that more than three million people are treated for nonmelanoma skin cancer every year in the U.S.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Johnson stood behind his products, calling the lawsuit “full of falsities.”
“I think it is important to note that we have been selling this remarkable product for about 5 years. We have had thousands of re-orders,” BuzzFeed quoted the statement as saying. “Surely people understand that as a successful skincare company it would make no sense that we would sell people a fake sun protection water….and if we did, how long does one think those sales would last?
“It would be ridiculous to think we could convince people to keep buying it if it doesn’t actually work,” the statement said.
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