Airborne Coughs Up Millions to Settle Suit
Check out this article in the Washington Post:
By Annys ShinWashington Post Staff Writer Friday, August 15, 2008; Page D01
Over the past decade, millions of consumers, including Oprah, have come to swear by Airborne — fizzy orange tablets containing vitamins, herbs and minerals that its makers for years said keeps cold germs at bay.
Gena Crowe of Fairfax says she doesn’t get on a plane without it. “If I feel like a sore throat is coming on,” she said, “it seems to take it away.”
Airborne, however, when used as directed does not prevent class-action lawsuits, charges of deceptive advertising — or, according to the government, the common cold.
“There is no credible evidence that Airborne products . . . will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which filed a complaint against Airborne’s makers.
The remedy prescribed by the FTC is for Airborne to pay consumers back for as many as six purchases, a nationwide total of as much as $30 million.
Under a settlement announced yesterday, the privately held Airborne Health, based in Bonita Springs, Fla., will add $6.5 million to funds it has already agreed to pay to settle a related class-action lawsuit. That suit, which alleged that Airborne falsely claimed its products could cure or prevent colds, was settled earlier this year for $23.5 million. Consumers who bought Airborne products between 2001 and 2008 have until Sept. 15 to apply for a refund for as many as six purchases, the FTC said. Claims will be paid by Oct. 15, 2008, the company said in a statement.
Airborne said it had already begun to change its packaging and marketing language. “It’s important to note that this is a settlement over older advertising and labeling, and has nothing to do with public safety,” said Airborne chief executive Elise Donahue. “We’ve offered a money-back guarantee for our products since 1997, and we have millions of satisfied customers. A class-action lawsuit sparked this matter. We’re just one of many major consumer brands across America that are under assault by class-action lawyers.”
I think it is very interesting. Major drugs and products every day are given federal protection from suits when they cause problems, or do not deliver as expected….
But a medication that only attempts to cure the cold – has to pay millions?
I would prefer to see some consistency with the way drug makers are treated. I guess Airborne’s federal lobby is not as strong as others.