The Commission claimed there was no evidence CVS Pharmacy’s AirShield product could boost the immune system or prevent colds as claimed by the retailer. CVS will pay almost $2.8m to settle the charges.
CVS is the latest to be hit by FTC’s crackdown on the deceptive marketing of dietary supplements, which has recently seen orders brought against Airborne, Rite Aid and Improvita Health Products.
CVS marketed AirShield products by touting their similarity to the widely advertised Airborne product. Both dietary supplements claimed to reduce the risk of colds and protect against catching colds in crowded places, such as schools, airplanes, offices, health clubs, theaters or restaurants, although in both cases FTC found the companies had no evidence to support their claims.
Restriction on future claims
The settlement charges will go towards refunding consumers who purchased CVS’s Airshield products. The order will also bar CVS from making claims that any of its branded food, drug or dietary supplements can reduce the risk of or prevent colds, protect against cold viruses in crowded places, fight germs, or boost the immune system unless the claims are supported by scientific evidence.
“Consumers should not be misled by false claims about the germ-fighting properties of dietary supplements,” said David Vladeck, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission. “With orders against Airborne, Rite Aid, and the one proposed against CVS, manufacturers and retailers are on notice that they have to tell the truth about what dietary supplements can and can’t do.”
The FTC, which regulates product advertising, has put immunity claims high on its hit list in light of the recent damage inflicted on the dietary supplements industry by bogus products and claims.