The company responsible for the Hydroxycut recall in 2009 has been forced to pay $1.5 million to settle ten deceptive advertising lawsuits. The attorneys’ complaints alleged that advertisements for several of the company’s products were misleading or incomplete. The company, Iovate Health Systems, was sued by ten California district attorneys.
Iovate was also forced to settle a claim with the U.S. FTC over misleading advertisements for its products. Though the company did not admit guilt, it did agree to set new, clearer standards for ensuring that the health claims it makes in advertisements are true and substantiated.
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
The company was also convicted of violating a California statute which limited the amount of lead allowed in a medication. Cold MD, a medication used to treat flu symptoms, had more than 0.5 milligrams of lead per dose. Laboratory results showed that certain lots had significantly more than 0.5 milligrams of lead per dose. The lawsuits also slam the company for not including warning labels about lead on Cold MD products. The California statute that requires warning labels on products containing more than 0.5 milligrams of lead is called Proposition 65.
The lawsuit also allege that Cold MD was an unapproved drug. California law prohibits the sale and distribution of unapproved drugs in the state. Cold MD was discontinued in 2008.
The settlement against Iovate will force the company to pay $1.2 million in civil penalties and $300,000 in investigative costs. The company refused to admit guilt, but agreed to settle for a total of $1.5 million with the California district attorneys.
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.
It is illegal for a company to make false claims about the effectiveness of its products without evidence to back up these claims. Many companies have been sued for falsely advertising the benefits of their products without including safety information, or for making claims that are completely fabricated. Lawsuits for false advertising impact large companies, such as Bayer over its promotion of Yaz and Yasmin birth control. These types of lawsuits also reach smaller companies that sell dietary supplements with unsubstantiated claims.