FTC Settles With Nationally-Recognized Maker of Healthy Remedy
Statement of CSPI Director of Litigation Stephen Gardner
The FTC's crackdown on Airborne is welcome news and should serve as a template for similar actions against many other companies. CSPI represents Airborne purchasers in the private class action in California that has settled and awaiting court approval. If the court approves the settlement, victimized Airborne purchasers will get millions of dollars, perhaps as much as $20 million, in refunds.
The FTC settlement adds up to an additional $6.5 million to that recovery. Of greater significance for future practices, the FTC settlement also addresses one important thing that was deliberately not part of the class action settlement — restrictions on Airborne's practices in the future. After the class action suit had been pending for some time, CSPI learned last year that the FTC was also investigating Airborne. We decided to defer to the FTC on seeking restrictions on Airborne's future practices to avoid conflicting results. We had faith that the FTC would impose at least as many restrictions, if not more, as we could achieve in the private litigation. That faith was justified—the FTC consent order prohibits Airborne from claiming that it can prevent or cure the common cold.
The FTC expressly noted that there is "no credible evidence that Airborne products, taken as directed, will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places." This is exactly what CSPI had determined in 2006 and was the basis for the private class action.
The settlement announced today represents an excellent example showing the importance of public and private enforcement of consumer protection laws. This decision gives the potential for additional millions of dollars to Airborne's customers, preceded by the class action settlement that achieved one of the largest, indeed perhaps the single largest, settlement providing cash refunds to retail customers of any product.
Consumers seeking refunds for purchases of Airborne can obtain a claim form by writing to the Airborne Class Action Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1897, Faribault, MN 55021-7152, calling 1-888-952-9080, or by visiting www.AirborneHealthSettlement.com.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).