The nonprofit group has notified the pharmaceutical giant that it will be sued for violations of state consumer protection laws unless the company drops the claims that the supplements “support” breast, heart, eye, and joint health, as well as physical energy, immunity, healthy blood pressure, bone strength, and metabolism.
In response, Tricia McKernan, VP of global communications & public affairs at Bayer HealthCare, Consumer Care Division told NutraIngredients-USA: “We are in receipt of CSPI’s letter dated today and are in the process of reviewing. From an early review, it looks as though CSPI is reacting to certain claims that are not currently made in support of our products.
“We will provide a more official statement upon our complete review and will defend ourselves as appropriate.”
In a letter to Timothy G. Hayes, Senior Vice President, Consumer Care Division Bayer HealthCare – available here – CSPI references a One A Day web site, which states: “Every three minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer, and according to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer at some point during her life is about 1 in 8.” This is followed by tips for avoiding the disease, such as conducting self-examinations, getting annual mammograms, and eating a healthy diet.
The site also states: “Take One A Day Women’s multivitamins formulated with a high level of vitamin D to support breast health.”
“Bayer is literally putting One A Day multivitamins on a par with mammograms,” said Steve Gardner, CSPI litigation director. “Bayer is saying: ‘Take these pills and you’ll reduce your risk of breast cancer.’ And elsewhere, when the company says it ‘supports breast health,’ it knows full well that cancer is far and away the top breast health issue for women.”
CSPI also takes exception to labels and marketing copy for several One A Day multivitamins formulated to “support heart health” or “support healthy blood pressure”, which such claims allegedly based on the presence of vitamins B, C, and E.
“Bayer uses similar tactics when it claims its pills variously support bone strength, joint health, or eye health: It knows that some consumers will interpret those words to mean that the supplements will help prevent osteoporosis, arthritis, or eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration,” said CSPI.
CSPI has said it is willing to “discuss resolution before CSPI takes further legal action.
“Ultimately, if litigation became necessary, CSPI would seek an injunction prohibiting Bayer from expressly or implicitly (1) representing that any of its dietary supplement products can be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease; and (2) making unsubstantiated claims for its dietary supplement products.”