Back in March I wrote about the makers of Airborne settling a class action lawsuit to the tune of $23 million for misleading claims that their product diminishes or prevents the common cold. Now the company has reach a second settlement this time filed by 32 Attorney Generals against the company for making misleading claims. The award is a paltry $7 million dollars and a promise to stop making health claims:
As a part of its multistate settlement, Airborne Health Inc. agreed to discontinue claims about the “health benefit, performance, efficacy or safety” of its products in preventing and treating ailments, Legal Newsline reported Tuesday.
“Consumers who purchased Airborne to treat their colds were not getting their money’s worth as there is no proof that Airborne can lessen your cold symptoms,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.
[…] The attorneys general lawsuit, filed by Bob Cooper of Tennessee, claimed Airborne’s marketing materials implied that its products had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Airborne dramatically misrepresented its products as cold remedies without any scientific evidence to back up its claims,” California Attorney General Brown said. “Under this agreement, the company will stop advertisements that suggest that its products are a cure for the common cold.”
Of course as part of the terms of the settlement the company doesn’t have to admit to any wrongdoing. So now you can expect to see new commercials for Airborne that are similar to the ones for “Head On”—another herbal supplement that got in trouble for claiming it cured headaches—wherein no specific claims are made about what the product does, but they encourage you to buy it anyway. Not that this will hurt the company in real way. Their estimated profits for the year 2006 alone is around $150 million so $7 million here and the $23 million back in March are but the cost of doing business with the overly credulous.
This is a shame as the product is potentially dangerous:
Airborne contains too much vitamin A. Two pills contains 10,000 IU, which is the maximum safe limit, but the instructions say to take three pills per day. So taken as directed Airborne contains more than the safe limit of vitamin A. This would also have to be added to vitamin A consumed in food, and of course many consumers may also be taking a multivitamin without realizing that Airborne is essentially just another vitamin pill itself.
Most folks won’t hear about this second settlement and for the True Believers it won’t matter if they do. Airborne will ride this out without much concern until someone is hurt and/or killed by the product. Who knows? Even that might not be enough to get it pulled from the market.