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Jillian Michaels Doctors: Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.D

October 27, 2009

According to Jillian Michaels:

I created the products with the top bariatrics doctors in the world. And I do mean the world. These are some of the same doctors I have been working with for years to help me with my Biggest Loser contestants and my books — especially Master Your Metabolism.

The products refer to her diet pills and cleanse and detox.  When asked who those doctors were, the answer we get is: “Dr. Arnold Astrup at Harvard and Dr. Nathalie Chevreau RD” in answer.

Dr. Astrup may very well be Arne Astrup from the University of Copenhagen, a world renowned bariatrics doctor who appears to do research into how protein produces a sense of fullness.

Dr. Nathalie Chevreau is a little different.  First and formost, the correct way to list  her name is Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.d.  She is not a medical doctor.  According to her Plaxo profile she is currently ‘the Director of Women’s Health for Basic Research, LLC, the distributor of prestige cosmetic products and dietary supplements‘ and has been since 2001.

I discovered this by googling her name.  To my surprise, the three letter acronym that showed up connected with her name more than Ph.d was FTC!?!

Basic Research

Yes, the ‘prestige cosmetic products and dietary supplements’ that Basic Research LLC has manufactured are not seen as prestigious by the FTC.  These products included

  • Tummy Flattening Gel,
  • Cutting Gel,
  • Dermalin APg,
  • as well as 2 ephedrine products, Leptoprin and Anorex and
  • 1 fiber pill that is marketed to obese children: PediaLean!!

The FTC alleged the marketers lacked a reasonable basis in support of the claims, noting the sellers falsely stated clinical testing proved  claims for four of the challenged products and misrepresented their spokesperson as a medical doctor.

I can’t express to you how far a company has to go to run afoul of the FTC.  The commission only issues a complaint “when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated”.  You can see some of the claims of how far Basic Research has gone down this road.  You can read the FTC press release here and some additional claims found here.

“Dramatic, unsubstantiated weight and fat loss claims continue to tempt the overweight with new hope for a quick fix. It’s particularly disturbing, however, when marketers peddle such pills and potions for children without adequate substantiation,” according to Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  I have heard that Basic Research sues people a lot so I will step lightly here.  I would have to agree with Howard Beales characterization of this being ‘particularly disturbing’ to ‘peddle such pills and potions for children’.  I have no idea if Basic Research believed that this product worked or not.  If it did, I would have to think they would have done the research though.  In any case, I can’t tell you how utterly vile someone would have to be to market a false weight loss pill to overweight children.  I can’t imagine what circle in hell would be reserved for them.

The Role of Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.D

You might ask yourself what does Dr. Nathalie Chevreau Ph.D have to do with all of this?  Is she actually involved in these products being the Director of Women’s Health at Basic Research LLC?  The answer is yes.  Clearly.  Not only was she part of the fat cream development and marketing that was so egregious it led to congressman Rep. James Greenwood, R-Pa., to call the  Basic Research executives “scam artists”.  Yes, scam artists.  She was quoted in advertisements and mentioned specifically in legal proceedings for these products that earned the company over $66 million.  You can read about her role with Akavar here (Akavar is their new diet drug, the one that is causing the FTC to recommend that the Attorney General’s office take action against Basic Research as well as getting them a fat class action suit.  The article is a great read by the way!).

Seriously, I couldn’t be making this stuff up, I can not believe who this Dr. Nathalie Chevreau is.  You can find her quotes for some of these products in the legal proceedings between the FTC and Basic Research and on websites:

On Dermalin APg: ‘This new, highly concentrated formula allows for precise, targeted delivery… making it the first true spot-reducing gel capable of effective reduction of dense abdominal fat. ‘ -Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, PhD, RD, Director of Women’s Health, Sovage Dermalogic Laboratories (note the company name here…)

Of PediaLean she says: “This is a safe, natural weight-loss compound developed specifically for children,” said Dr Nathalie Chevreau, Klein-Becker’s director of women’s health (notice the company name and role now). “This is an outstanding fibre. One of the main reasons for obesity in children is overeating food packed with high calories. If they can just eat half a bag of French fries or potato chips, that’s half the battle.”


According to this archived email, the most disturbing thing about PediaLean is this:

Basic Research criticism is apparently a case of the kettle calling the pot black, perhaps because of its competing product, PediaLean, containing an unidentified product “Pediatropin” derived from the P. rivieri root – all shrouded in mystery and scientific-sounding hype.  A letter  from the Committee on Energy and Commerce points out the deceptive nature of PediaLean advertising and notes the lack of safety or efficacy data.  We found no genus to correlate with “P.” rivieri, but the plant in question may be Amorphophallus rivieri also known as Konjac Root.

WHAT!?!! We don’t even know what the hell is in this stuff?!!?  Seriously!?!?  This is happening in the United States!?!? Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, the doctor of the company that makes this product is in support of it?!!?  OMG!! Not only is she in support of it, but in her role as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Supplement Watch, she is a supporter: “One of the supporters of PediaLean is Nathalie Chevreau, member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Supplement Watch.  Opinion: Caution is necessary in weighing the endorsements of “Supplement Watch”.  A random sampling of the reviews on Nutraceuticals revealed that some valid criticisms were given where appropriate, although it is far from rigorous or comprehensive – for instance, the very important induction of cytochrome oxidases by St. John’s wort is not noted, and warnings concerning Ripped Fuel and Ephedra are understated.  Despite the HON affiliation, source literature is rarely cited. At least one member of Supplement Watch is listed with a university affiliation, but it turns out that he was only a postdoctoral student at the university.  Many of the members do not hold doctorates.  Supplement Watch is “internally financed”.

Is this seriously going on??? Yes. So far as I can figure, Dr. Chevreau was testifiying to a congressional hearing as a member of Supplement Watch, without identifying herself as ‘scientist behind the science of this product’.  Congress was a little leery of this group without evening knowing that the person testifying was actually a co-conspirator at the company that created the product… I don’t think that kind of behavior is legal is it?!?!?  I hope I am misunderstanding this.

By the way, when the FTC is saying they are making unsubstantiated claims, they aren’t saying that they are throwing out buzz phrases and claims without having any clinical research, but that they are throwing out claims of clinical research without having done any clinical research!!

Does PediaLean work? You bet it does! In a well-controlled double-blind clinical trial, each and every child who used PediaLean as directed lost a significant amount of excess body weight.. a success rate of 100%.”

PublIshed Medical Studies Don’t Lie…ClInically Proven Safe and Effective”

Strivectin-SD

The things is, Dr. Nathalie Chevreau didn’t stop there.  The cutting gel, the PediaLean, the Akavar, those are all old history.  All of that only takes us up to 2006.  Ironically, the reason I found this sordid tale of lawsuits and unsubstantiated diet claims is from a totally unrelated angle.  I actually found all of this from Melbourne Dermatology:

Strivectin-SD’s US advertising references a Dr. Nathalie Chevreau (“Director of Women’s Health at Basic Research, LLC”) and Dr. Daniel B. Mowrey (Director of Scientific Affairs at Strivectin manufacturer Klein-Becker).

The two companies in purportedly even-handed dialogue with one another are one and the same.

Moreover neither individual quoted is a medical doctor: Nathalie Chevreau is a registered dietician and Daniel B. Mowrey holds a PhD in experimental psychology (he has taught courses in experimental psychology, psychopharmacology, physiological psychology, sensation, cognition, and statistics).

This hasn’t been clarified anywhere — its dishonest to lead the public, beauty therapists and medical doctors such as dermatologists to believe these people are representative of any portion of the medical community.

Despite legal action by the US Federal Trade Commission and media interest dating back to 2004, Dr. Daniel B. Mowrey’s name continues to be plastered over literature for new products such as “Idebenol” (ripe for convenient confusion with recent prominent medical studies into the antioxidant “idebenone”) and “Hylexin” from “Bremenn Research Lab” — a product for “serious dark circles.”

This flavour of confusion is common to many products falling under the cosmeceutical category.

Yes, this is correct.  Basic Research is not only the leading supplier of supplements, backed by the scientific expertise of Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, but it is also the leading supplier of anti-wrinkle cream:
Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, PhD, RD, Director of Women’s Health at Salt Lake City based Basic Research®, exclusive distributor for Klein-Becker, explains, “Leading dermatologists agree that Botulinum Toxin is the preferred treatment for moderate to severe frown lines between the brow. But ever since it was discovered that StriVectin could reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crows’ feet… the kind of fine lines, wrinkles and crows feet that can add 10-15 years to your appearance and which costly medical treatments often leave behind… skin-care professionals have been recommending, and using, StriVectin.”

Apparently Dr. Chevreau Ph.D being a registered dietician in the State of Utah didn’t help with the angle on this product, so there was no need to mention it…  This does explain a strange tweet from Jillian Michaels refering to developing her own cosmetic line or something to that effect.  Why not, she has the best in the business to help her.

What does that say about Jillian Michaels Products?

I am personally happy to see that instead of hundreds of companies selling questionable products , it turns out that there are just a handful of companies who have honed their skills over years of semi-successful and rarely actionable products into the products we now see today.  It is like the Ab Circle Pro.  One company churning out better marketed products, each time honing their claims to avoid lawsuits and FTC actions.

Yes, I asked Jillian Michaels who her doctors were, hoping that they were just a little unscrupulous, just a little odd, and instead I get a non-medical doctor who has been named in numerous FTC actions and quoted in many ads for products that have been cited by the FTC specifically for the claims of these ads.

Hmmm….  I wonder what all of those people who think Jillian Michaels is supplying them with excellent medical advice will make of all of this?  Will they respond, yes, but it is all natural…  Probably.

I have emailed Dr. Natalie Chevreau and asked her about the science behind these products and I haven’t heard back.  I did get the phone numbers to some of her associates at Basic Research.  I phoned them today and I asked them if they developed the products for Jillian Michaels.  Before I was asked who I was and why I was calling I was told, ‘Yes we did’.  Then they started asking questions… who wasI, why was I calling.  I didn’t get much more information out of them from then.  Some employees were very good at the, ‘I am not allowed to say anything to anyone’ game by the way.  Bravo Basic Research, you do train your employees well.  So, it looks like these pills were developed by Basic Research.  I did ask them if they worked with or knew Arne Astrup as well, and they said they worked with many people and they knew who he was.  Jillian, point blank, were your pills developed by Basic Research (or any of their affiliate companies)?  Did you pay them money for your product?

Jillian Michaels fans, please, remember that personal trainers are awesome.  I am a huge fan.  Enjoy the trainer you see on TV and especially if you are lucky enough to have one of your own.  Still, be careful when you take advice about supplements from anyone.  Just remember though, by following Jillian Michaels down this foolish road you are just supplying more money to an industry (that had an estimated $20.3 billion in sales in 2005, according to industry figures cited by C. Lee Peeler, deputy director for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in congressional testimony) that is not only ripping us off right now, but is throwing money at the government to guarantee their ability to rip us off in the future.

You would be financing lobbyists who are working against the best interests of the general public

In what is probably the saddest part of this story, The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that supplement makers and distributors are giving congressmen the maximum donations possible to buy their goodwill (that isn’t the word that they would use, but seriously…).

Senator Chaffetz attributes the donations to his friendship with Bybee and his strong ties to the supplement industry, which is heavily concentrated in the 3rd Congressional District.
“I talk their language,” he said. “Orrin Hatch has really been the superstar with that industry and I think they understand that they need continued help in the years to come.”

Yep, Senator Hatch has been an unwavering supporter of the supplement industry.  According to Wikipedia:

Hatch’s son Scott is a named partner and registered lobbyist at Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC, a Washington lobbying firm. The firm was formed in 2001; the other two partners are Jack Martin, a staff aide to Senator Hatch for six years, and H. Laird Walker, who has been described as a close associate of the senator’s. [6] In March 2003, the Los Angeles Times quoted Senator Hatch as saying that the firm was formed with his “personal encouragement” and that he saw no conflict of interest in championing issues that helped his son’s clients. [7]
Hatch has legislated for dietary supplements to be governed outside of the realm of drugs and food additives. Utah, his constituency, is considered the “Silicon Valley” of the supplement industry. When the FDA was reviewing the adverse effects of ephedra, Hatch defended the supplement industry. At the time, Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC were being paid, by companies with interests in ephedra manufacturing, for lobbying Congress.[7]
In March 2009, the Washington Times reported that the pharmaceutical industry, which has “long has benefited from Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s legislative efforts”, had previously undisclosed connections to Hatch. Five pharmaceutical companies and the industry’s main lobbying group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), wrote checks in 2007 totaling more than $170,000 to the Utah Families Foundation, a tax-exempt charitable foundation which Hatch helped start in the 1990s and had vigorously supported since. Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC was paid $120,000 by PhRMA in 2007 to lobby Congress on pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration legislation.[6]

The thing is, people who are buying these supplements are making this possible.  You might think it is harmless to buy them.  After all, they probably won’t harm you, and if they don’t work, so what.  So what?  You pay Jillian Michaels, she pays Dr. Nathalie Chevreau (and if the source at Basic Research is correct, you are paying Basic Research), from the company that six executives gave money to Senator Chaffetz, who wants to protect an industry that would like to reduce or eliminate consumer protection with respect to requiring scientific support for claims made by these companies.

Don’t think that nobody is getting hurt by these things.  They are.  I am sick of seeing this happen.  I am angry.  I get angrier each time I see an ad selling this crap, and I get sad every time someone defends Jillian Michaels, saying ‘she is an expert.  She has hired the best doctors so what do I know?’  I know a scam when I see one.  What I didn’t know is that when Jillian Michaels said her pills were made by the best in the business, that she wasn’t kidding.

According to her own profile, Dr. Nathalie Chevreau says her role is: Scientific expert of the products to ensure claims are backed by science. Scientific expert of the products to ensure claims are backed by science?!?!? Seriously!?!? Isn’t that precisely what they have been sued over repeatedly, their failure to back their claims with science?!?!

When Jillian Michaels said her pills were made by the best in the business, she wasn’t kidding, I just should have asked her what business…

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 10:04 pm

    Man, just when I think this whole thing can’t get worse….as sad as I am to find out who the REAL Jillian is, I am grateful that you have made it your mission to educate people about this whole mess.

    TBL used to be one of my favorite shows (and God bless him, I still love Bob) but I can’t bear to watch it now, knowing that she is subjecting people to this garbage.

    Bravo my friend. (Cheering for you in a girly way ::grin::)

  2. February 27, 2010 4:08 pm

    GREAT RESEARCH!!

    Here’s what we found and posted on our AntiBiggestLoser.com blog about the hypocrisy of Jillian Michaels hawking weight loss pills:

    Perhaps Jillian Michaels forgot what she wrote in the “Dispelling Myths” section of her book Winning by Losing:

    “Diet pills and surgical weight loss options are two more examples of detrimental quick fixes. Diet products and procedures are simply gimmicks that target people’s apathy and hopelessness about their own health.”

    I guess targeting people’s hopelessness is only OK if the buck lands in your pocket.

  3. Teresa R permalink
    May 21, 2014 11:47 am

    How can I join the class action suit against Jillian Michaels fat burner pill and the makers of the product, and, walgreens for putting it on the shelves…I have had numerous serious cardiac problems since taking the pills, aLso 3 ulcers, an errosive esophagus…And more symptoms and results from doctors…Please get back to me ASAP because I trusted Jillian Michaels and Walgreens and am now scared & worried regarding my health…They need to reimburse me for all the tests, time off of work, false advertising
    Thank-You

Trackbacks

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