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Does wearing copper clothing relieve pain?

Created date

January 29th, 2016

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You’ve seen the advertisements promising amazing relief from chronic pain simply by wearing special clothes made with copper. Tommie Copper, Inc., advertised in well-respected publications like Arthritis Today. They also ran television commercials and infomercials featuring testimonials from people claiming that wearing the company’s copper-infused compression garments took them from needing surgery to “not going near the surgeon’s knife.” Unfortunately, the science behind those claims just doesn’t hold up.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged that Tommie Copper, Inc., deceptively advertised that their compression clothing would relieve severe and chronic pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and other diseases. 

In the company’s infomercial, television personality Montel Williams says, “Tommie Copper truly is pain relief without a pill.” Ads for the products said the garments alleviate pain caused by multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia, and could provide pain relief comparable to, or better than, drugs or surgery.

No scientific support

Tommie Copper, Inc., and its founder Thomas Kallash have agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle the FTC’s charges. Part of that settlement requires that the company have competent and reliable scientific evidence before making future claims about pain relief, disease treatment, or health benefits.

“It’s tempting to believe that wearing certain clothing will eliminate severe pain, but Tommie Copper didn’t have science to back its claims,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If you see an ad for a product that promises to replace the need for drugs or surgery, talk to a health care professional before you spend your money.”

The garments include sleeves, braces, shirts, and socks. They range in price from $29.95 to $69.50 and are available from the company and through vendors such as amazon.com. The company is still allowed to sell the garments but is prohibited from making unsubstantiated health claims about wearing them.

Tommie Copper, Inc., is just the latest in a long line of companies trying to make money from people’s natural desire to get better and feel great. Talk to your doctor before investing in anything that promises to cure your pain. In this case, consumers who purchased Tommie Copper products were ripped off, but they weren’t physically harmed. That is not always the case.   

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online complaint assistant at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

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