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CVS to Pay Refunds to Consumers Who Purchased Algal-900 Memory Supplements

Settlement Resolves 2016 Class Action Lawsuit

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CVS will pay refunds to certain consumers who purchased its Algal-900 DHA supplements, which the company marketed as memory aids, thereby resolving a federal class action lawsuit against the company brought on behalf of consumers by the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s litigation unit and two other law firms in 2016. Marketing for the supplement claimed that the pills were “clinically shown” to improve memory, even though the Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2014 that the study that the company relied upon could not be used to make such claims.

The settlement class consists of all persons and entities that between November 15, 2008 and September 30, 2016 resided and purchased any of the products at issue in the United States. Consumers who are members of the settlement class with proof of purchase can obtain full refunds, according to the terms of the settlement approved Thursday by United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold. Members of the class without proof of purchase, but with purchases linked to CVS Extra Care accounts, may receive store credit. And even members of the class without proof of purchase or purchases linked to Extra Care cards can receive one specified refund per person upon filing a claim, according to the settlement. Consumers have until December 12, 2019 to submit a claim at www.cvsdhasettlement.com. The agreement also bars CVS from making claims that Algal-900 is “clinically shown to improve memory” or that it provides “clinically proven memory improvement” for two years.

High-quality clinical studies have found that taking DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid in Algal-900, works no better than a placebo at improving cognitive function, according to CSPI.

“This is a great result for purchasers of CVS’s Algal-900 DHA supplement, many of whom can get all their money back,” said CSPI associate litigation director Matthew Simon, who worked on the case. “And we hope the resolution of this litigation sends a clear signal to the rest of the supplement industry, where too many companies are making promises they can’t deliver.”

The case was brought in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Besides Simon, plaintiffs were represented by Michael R. Reese of Reese LLP, Steven A. Skalet of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, Craig L. Briskin, now at Justice Catalyst Law, and former CSPI litigation director Maia Kats, now of Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLC, who played a primary role in conceiving, bringing, and litigating this case.

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Contact: Jeff Cronin (jcronin@cspinet.org)