March 4, 2008

23.3 Million Reasons Not To Use Airborne


Overpriced, prittified, and deceptively marketed vitamin supplement "Airborne" has agreed to pay back some of the money they successfully marketed out of the pockets of consumers who figure that if a company says that it's got research to back its claims, that research is done by scientists rather than by two guys in a garage.

The makers of Airborne-a multivitamin and herbal supplement whose labels and ads falsely claimed that the product cures and prevents colds-will refund money to consumers who bought the product, as part of a $23.3 million class action settlement agreement. [...] February 2006, ABC News revealed on Good Morning America that Airborne's much-touted lone clinical trial was actually conducted without any doctors or scientists, just a "two-man operation started up just to do the Airborne study." Soon after the plaintiff notified Airborne of his intent to file suit in March 2006, the company stopped mentioning the study and began toning down the overt cold-curing claims in favor of vague "immunity boosting" language. [...]

"There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," said CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt, who reviewed Airborne's claims. "Airborne is basically an overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."

Eat a variety of foods including vegetables. Exercise once in a while. Wash your hands before you eat or touch your face. It'll have a more measurable effect than taking Airborne.

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Posted by James at March 4, 2008 2:45 AM
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About dang time. I am surrounded by people at work downing this stuff like it is water because other people are coming to work sick. I think I'll circulate this to all of them.

Posted by: briwei at March 4, 2008 11:31 AM

But but but it's made by a teeeeeeeacher!

Posted by: Julie at March 4, 2008 12:33 PM

And you may wonder why FDA doesn't regulate supplements, requiring they show efficacy and safety. You can thank Congress for passing the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Am article in Time magazine in 2003 said it well:

"Investigations aside, why can't the Federal Government simply step in to aid consumers who are wasting billions of dollars a year on 'remedies' that are ineffective at best, and occasionally harmful? The answer lies in the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which was passed by Congress after extensive lobbying by the health food industry. Its passage was eased by the strong support of such medically illiterate politicians as Senator Tom Harkin (who believes in the healing powers of bee pollen), Senator Orrin Hatch (whose state of Utah is a hub for herbal manufacturers) and Representative Dan Burton (the most rabid Congressional opponent of vaccination). The act allows natural supplements to be marketed without any proof of their purity, safety or efficacy. Producers of these supplements are largely exempt from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, which can take action against them only if they make claims about their products curing or alleviating disease — or if, say, their customers start dropping dead."

Read the Time article here:,9565,405186,00.html

Read about the DSHEA here:

Posted by: Patti M. at March 4, 2008 1:19 PM

I always wash my hands before I eat my face.

Posted by: Chuck S. at March 4, 2008 1:29 PM

At least none of us were dumb enough to spend money on the product cited in this letter from the FDA:

As I read this, I thought to myself, How dumb is too dumb? Did this "manufacturer" really think this was a good idea?

Posted by: Patti M. at March 4, 2008 1:39 PM

I've noticed the Airborne ads are still running on TV, which puzzled me, given the $23 million class action lawsuit over false claims in an ad for the product.

This morning, one of the lists I subscribe to sent this story:

Airborne Brand Can Stay Healthy, Experts Say:
Consumers likely to shrug off false advertising settlement

The company, which markets herbal supplements, agreed to pay more than $23 million in a class-action settlement over false claims in an ad, but that's likely to be the extent of the damage, said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles-based marketing consultant. "The stuff that generally kills a brand is endangerment, not ineffectiveness."

Frankel added that the fact the product does not appear to cure colds, as the packaging previously stated, "is going to be countered by all these people that dump on Western medicine."

So, the old saying is still true: A fool and his money are soon parted.

Posted by: Patti M. at March 10, 2008 8:22 AM

A fool and his money is the American consumer.

Posted by: James at March 10, 2008 8:45 AM


Posted by: Patti M. at March 10, 2008 9:47 AM

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