Pfizer has agreed remove claims about breast and colon health on ads and labels for its top-selling Centrum multivitamins as part of a deal with health advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
As a result, the CSPI will not now take legal action against the healthcare giant, said the CSPI, which had threatened to sue if Pfizer did not amend its claims.
Centrum Ultra Women’s and Centrum Silver Women’s multivitamin supplements are claimed to support breast health, while Centrum Ultra Men’s and Centrum Silver Ultra Men’s are claimed to support colon health.
But such claims imply that the supplements might prevent breast and colon cancer, and are in effect unauthorized disease prevention claims, argued CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.
“Supplement manufacturers must not mislead consumers into thinking that these pills will help ward off cancer.”
Pfizer: Happy to work collaboratively with CSPI to resolve matter
In a letter to the CSPI from law firm Patton Boggs on behalf of Pfizer, Stuart Pape, a partner at Patton Boggs, rejected Gardner's analysis: “As you know from our discussions, Pfizer denies CSPI’s allegations and the changes Pfizer has agreed to make do not constitute an admission.”
However, Pfizer was happy to “work collaboratively with CSPI to resolve this matter” and agreed to discontinue the breast and colon health claims, said Cape.
It has also agreed that Centrum supplements bearing heart health claims will include wording clarifying that they are “not a replacement for cholesterol-lowering drugs”, he said.
Meanwhile, supplements bearing an energy claim will in future include language clarifying that they do not directly provide an energy boost, but rather help support metabolic function, he added.
Pfizer has agreed to amend its web sites and ads by early August and to amend product labels over the next six months.
CSPI: 'Pleased with the collaborative spirit with which Pfizer was willing to discuss our concerns’
“Although Pfizer disagrees with our position, we are pleased with the collaborative spirit with which Pfizer was willing to discuss our concerns and resolve them without resorting to litigation”, said Gardner.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare is among the largest over-the-counter health care companies in the world with a global footprint in more than 90 countries.
The CSPI is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington DC.