Sept. 3, 2002 -- The following is an unedited, uncorrected transcript from Greg Hunter's report on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson: We take up now something that you may know something about, it is called Super Blue Stuff. At one point, it was the number one selling product on infomercials, and it claimed to relieve everything from the occasional aches and pains of the weekend warrior to chronic arthritis. But as our Consumer Correspondent Greg Hunter found out, its name isn't the only thing that's vague, so is the science behind it.
ABCNEWS'GREG HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) It's called Super Blue Stuff. The folks who sell it promise this infomercial ointment, which costs about $40, relieves not just minor aches, but all kinds of severe and chronic pain.
(CLIPS FROM SUPER BLUE STUFF INFOMERCIALS)
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) The infomercials have featured numerous testimonials from seriously ill consumers. Consumers like this stroke victim.
(CLIP FROM SUPER BLUE STUFF INFOMERCIAL)
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) (VO) So, how is this product managing to help so many sick people? Well, if you believe the company, the answer lies here. Meet the Emu. According to the company, oil derived from this odd-looking flightless bird is one of the keys to the Blue Stuff miracle.
(CLIP FROM SUPER BLUE STUFF INFOMERCIAL)
HUNTER: (On Camera) The company sold more than a million jars of Super Blue Stuff in just a few short years. But critics say that claims they're using to sell the product are a lot like the Emu, they just won't fly.
ROBERT NICOLOSI PHD, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL: I was totally aghast, dismayed that, that something could make claims to that extent.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Professor Robert Nicolosi is a Biochemist at the University Of Massachusetts, and one of the only scientists in the world to have ever actually studied Emu oil. The oil, he says, has, indeed, been shown to have some health benefits. But so far, only in the ears of mice. Nicolosi says, Blue Stuff once offered to let him formally test their product in his University lab, but then never got back to him.
NICOLOSI: Now, I don't know of any, medication, any approved pharmaceutical that could make the claims that Super Blue Stuff made.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Dr. Daniel Furst is also skeptical. Dr. Furst advises the FDA on arthritis treatments, and he's one of four nationally respected clinical experts on pain, who told us they've never heard of Super Blue Stuff.
DOCTOR DANIEL FURST, UCLA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If it had any real data behind it, we would have heard about, and we certainly have not.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Dr. Furst says, if some consumers are getting some relief, that may be because Blue Stuff contains ingredients like menthol, which are known to be effective for minor aches and pains and which are commonly available in many over the counter remedies. But those looking for a miracle cure for severe pain may well be in for a cruel surprise.
KATHY TROELLER, TREMONT, ILLINOIS: I thought, oh, my God. Wouldn't that be nice to have something take away this pain.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Kathy Troeller, of Tremont, Illinois, says since last year severe rheumatoid arthritis has kept her in constant pain, and at times, in a wheel chair. According to Troeller, when she saw Super Blue Stuff's promise on TV, she leapt at their offer and came down heard.
TROELLER: Well, they got my hopes up. They made me think there was something that would help me.
HUNTER: Was there?
TROELLER: It didn't.
HUNTER:(Voice Over Tape) Kathy got her $40 back, but the experience cost her much more than money.
TROELLER: I was devastated when this didn't work.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Company President Jack McClung, the former dairy farmer who invented Blue Stuff, sent us a statement which said, in part that "There's always a few people the product will not work on, so we have always offered a money-back guarantee." McClung says, the proof his product works, lies in the thousands of people in pain his product has helped, like the consumers on his infomercial. And he states, no one can challenge the truthfulness of the unsolicited statements that our consumers have made about Super Blue Stuff. Experts say, that's simply not enough.
FURST: Testimonials carry a lot of weight to the person, but they have absolutely no scientific validity in and of themselves. Everybody may feel better for one reason or another, but it may have nothing to do with the substance that they're talking about.
HUNTER: (Voice Over Tape) Blue Stuff told us they, quote, "double-blind placebo-controlled study is under way to test their products effectiveness on severe pain." And they say they've pulled their infomercials as of July, and are working on a brand new one. In the meantime, some who recently tried the product are still feeling blue.
TROELLER: Don't take advantage of anyone, least of all, someone in pain. Least of all, someone in pain.
GIBSON: (On Camera) And our Consumer Correspondent Greg Hunter is joining us now. They've pulled the infomercials?
HUNTER: (On Camera) That's right. Before they pulled it, it was the number one infomercial in America, according to the Electronic Retailing Association.
GIBSON: (On Camera) Did they pull the infomercial because of the complaints that have been lodged, or some of them?
HUNTER: (On Camera) They pulled the infomercial. I don't know exactly what they're, they're idea is. They're pulling it to retool it.
GIBSON: (OC) What is the, what is the status of this stuff now?
HUNTER: (On Camera) Well, I don't know if any action's gonna be taken, but I, I do know their own industry trade group, the Electronic Retailing Association, wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, and what they said was that they, they were worried about the claims being unsubstantiated. And also, they're worried about targeting people who were very vulnerable. And we'll let you know what goes on.
GIBSON: (On Camera) You say the trade group that represents the people who put out infomercials?
HUNTER:(On Camera) That's right. There's an entire trade group, the Electronic Retailing Association. And, you know, when they put up a, a warning flag that, hey, maybe these claims are, really are a little bit over the top. Maybe we should complain to the Federal Trade Commission. Well, then, that gives you, you know, gives you pause.
GIBSON: (On Camera) But no action yet by the Trade Commission?
HUNTER:Don't know of any, but no action yet.