“Airborne” cold remedy settles yet another lawsuit.

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.

5 thoughts on ““Airborne” cold remedy settles yet another lawsuit.

  1. It is a shame…DH said ppl at his work would swear by this stuff and when I looked into it I realized it was just another vitamin and told him that we can just take the Flintstones in our cabinet already and it would work just as well.

    I have also read about how doctor’s are trying to tell patients to stop taking all these supplements because they are almost overdosing on them.  When you think of all the supplements marketed for illness or general health and of course people are stupid and take ALL of them because we know more is better…and they could actually be making them more sick. People forget that you get many of these nutrients from food and actually that the body can utilize the ones from food more efficiently than in pill form.  In pills most of those nutrients get expelled from the body anyway since you can’t absorb it as well. Just wasting your money when you can just eat more broccoli.

    I personally can’t take any supplements for longer than a week at once ever other day or I get really really sick.  I give my son vitamins when he isn’t eating well for whatever reason over a period of days.

    But, as long as someone on TV says that they are healthy and “all natural” then people are going to take them.

  2. Airborne is basically a large dose of vitamin C plus zinc. You can buy a whole bag of Hall’s drops for a fraction of the cost. The jury’s still out on whether massive doses of C and zinc have any effect on colds and flu. Your body does need those minerals, however.

    Keep in mind that Airborne was invented by a non-medically-trained person. I think I’ll defer to the real professionals when it comes to my health, thank you.

  3. Stormin’ writes…

    Airborne is basically a large dose of vitamin C plus zinc. You can buy a whole bag of Hall’s drops for a fraction of the cost. The jury’s still out on whether massive doses of C and zinc have any effect on colds and flu. Your body does need those minerals, however.

    Research is showing that vitamin C is less effective than washing your hands when it comes to preventing the common cold. Zinc doesn’t fare much better when its effectiveness as a cold treatment is studied.

    Your body does need those minerals, but most people will get more than enough if they just eat decent meals regularly. In fact there’s some research that indicates you’re best off getting your vitamins by eating a good diet than by taking supplements:

    This week, researchers reported the disappointing results from a large clinical trial of almost 15,000 male doctors taking vitamins E and C for a decade. The study showed no meaningful effect on cancer rates.

    Another recent study found no benefit of vitamins E and C for heart disease.

    In October, a major trial studying whether vitamin E and selenium could lower a man’s risk for prostate cancer ended amidst worries that the treatments may do more harm than good.

    And recently, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York warned that vitamin C seems to protect not just healthy cells but cancer cells, too.

    Everyone needs vitamins, which are critical for the body. But for most people, the micronutrients we get from foods usually are adequate to prevent vitamin deficiency, which is rare in the United States. That said, some extra vitamins have proven benefits, such as vitamin B12 supplements for the elderly and folic acid for women of child-bearing age. And calcium and vitamin D in women over 65 appear to protect bone health.

    But many people gobble down large doses of vitamins believing that they boost the body’s ability to mop up damaging free radicals that lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition to the more recent research, several reports in recent years have challenged the notion that megadoses of vitamins are good for you.

    There’s a few vitamin supplements that seem to do something, but unless your doctor recommends—or you eat nothing but McDonald’s take out all the time—then you probably don’t need them.

  4. Studies are now showing that for some reason the actual food naturally containing the mineral is a better source of that mineral than any pill. Scientists don’t know why, but that is the way things appear to be. Yet again there is no quick fix.

  5. I took that stuff a few times, I’m not sure if it was a psycho-somatic response that caused my cold to go away fast or not…but after reading up on it a bit I also found some stuff on the overload of Vitamin A that gave me some concern…

    Now I just load up on Cantelope and other veggies to clean out if I’m feeling under the weather…

    I’m surprised the FDA hasn’t laid a harsh smack down on this company yet.

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