Over the past decade, millions of consumers have been using a product called Airborne to keep cold germs at bay. Airborne, when used as directed, does not prevent the common cold. Lydia Parnes, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which filed a complaint against Airborne’s makers, says:
There is no credible evidence that Airborne products . . . will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places.
The remedy prescribed by the FTC is for Airborne to pay consumers back for as many as six purchases, a nationwide total of as much as $30 million. Under a settlement announced last month, the privately held Airborne Health, based in Bonita Springs, Florida, will add $6.5 million to funds it has already agreed to pay to settle a related class-action lawsuit. That suit, which alleged that Airborne falsely claimed its products could cure or prevent colds, was settled earlier this year for $23.5 million. Consumers who bought Airborne products between 2001 and 2008 have until September 15th to apply for a refund for as many as six purchases. Claims will be paid by October 15th. I must confess that I have taken Airborne, but can’t say it ever stopped a cold that was in its early stages. It did make me hope for relief though and I guess that’s important.
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