The company behind the Hydroxycut debacle in 2009 will be forced to pay $1.5 million to settle 10 more lawsuits, this time over the misleading advertising practices behind several of its most popular cold, allergy, and flu remedies. The false advertising lawsuits brought by ten California district attorneys also allege that Cold MD had more than 0.5 milligrams of lead, and so the company was in violation of a California statute prohibiting more than 0.5 milligrams of lead in a product without a clear warning label.
The company named in the lawsuits, Iovate Health Sciences, Inc., is a Canadian company. It’s American affiliate is Iovate Health Sciences USA, Inc. Iovate has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the claims brought against it by 10 U.S. district attorneys, who alleged that the advertising practices were deceptive and misleading for its cold, flu, and allergy products.
The lawsuits accused the drug firm of making deceptive advertising claims in regard to the following drugs:
- Cold MD
- Germ MD Effervescent Tablets
- Allergy MD Rapid-Tabs
- EZ-Swallow Rapid-Tabs
Of the $1.5 million, $1.2 million was paid for civil fines. $300,000 was paid for investigative costs.
Earlier in 2010, Iovate also settled a claim with the U.S. FTC for $5.5 million over deceptive advertising practices. The action by the FTC was intended to combat bogus claims that Iovate’s products could help with weight loss or treat and/or prevent colds, flu, allergies, and hay fever. Some of the ads featured white-coated individuals depicted as doctors who claimed that Iovate’s products could treat common ailments. Some advertisements also said that the claims were “clinically proven;” the FTC slammed these claims as false and unsubstantiated.
U.S. law prohibits companies selling products with medical claims unless the claims have been backed up by scientific evidence. Violators of these laws range from the biggest drug companies in the world to small manufacturers of dietary supplements.
In addition to the problems with misleading advertisements, the California district attorneys found that several lots of Iovate’s Cold MD contained more than 0.5 milligrams of lead, but the products had no warning label about the high amount of lead. This put the company in violation of Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on products that contain more than 0.5 milligrams of lead.
The California district attorneys also alleged that Cold MD was an unapproved product, which places it in violation of California law that bans the distribution and sale of unapproved drugs. The company stopped selling Cold MD in 2008.
The lawsuits against Iovate were brought by district attorneys’ offices in Sonoma, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, and Solano counties.
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