Rite Aid caught selling bogus ‘Germ Defense’

Remember Airborne, the sham cold remedy whose manufacturer settled to cough up $37 million dollars last year because of that whole not working thing?

While the company admitted no wrongdoing, under the settlement, Airborne Health Inc. will discontinue any claims about the “health benefit, performance, efficacy or safety” of its supplements in preventing and treating colds and other ailments.

Well, now there’s a new Airborne falling out of the sky, Germ Defense. Germ Defense is another natural cold “remedy” like Airborne (and right next to it on the shelves) sold at Rite Aid, which now must pay $500,000 in refunds to customers who bought this product that doesn’t actually do anything. . . unless we change the definition of “anything” to include nothing.

The manufacturer of Germ Defense, Improvita, has also been charged with false advertising. If you bought Germ Defense tablets or lozenges, you’re eligible for a refund of the value of up to six packages of the supplement. From the FTC’s press release:

Like Airborne Health, Inc., which settled deceptive advertising charges with the FTC last
year for marketing its effervescent tablets as a cold prevention and treatment remedy, Rite Aid will settle similar charges for selling a purported cold-and-flu remedy under its private label. Rite Aid will pay $500,000 for consumer redress under the agreed-upon final order. The company is required to post a refund notice, along with postage-pre-paid refund request forms, in a clear and conspicuous location in the cold-and-flu aisle at each of its stores for 60 days beginning on October 1, 2009. Consumers will have until December 31, 2009 to submit refund requests for up to six packages of Germ Defense.

Also under the settlement agreement, Rite Aid may not claim that any Rite-Aid-label version of Airborne, or any Rite-Aid-label food, drug, or dietary supplement can reduce the risk of or prevent colds or flu, reduce the severity or duration of colds, or boost the immune system unless the claims are truthful, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

Rite Aid and Improvita marketed several flavors of Germ Defense lozenges and tablets as
dietary supplements that contained vitamins C and E, zinc, and echinacea. They claimed the products could reduce the risk of or prevent colds and flu; protect against or fight germs; reduce the severity or duration of a cold; protect against colds and flu in crowded places; and boost the immune system, according to the complaints. The FTC charged that there is inadequate evidence to support these claims.

Once again though, the government is failing to really do its job. Ultimately this product is still going to be on shelves with only slightly different wording on the same shelf by the REAL cold medicine. The packaging will say some vague bullshit instead that can’t be legally fought like “Promotes healing” or “Improves immune system,” etc. So other than taking a little cash from them, these assholes will continue to sell their nonsense to those who assume their pharmacy isn’t selling them junk and who won’t have any idea that it doesn’t work.

It blows my mind that the federal government time and time again refuses to take any real action and shut down these criminal operations.

4 Responses to Rite Aid caught selling bogus ‘Germ Defense’

  1. […] relief “medicine” that was forced to pay out a $37 million court settlement last year. Then Rite Aid was forced to pay out a $500,000 in refunds to customers for “Germ Defense,&#822… Rite Aid’s version of the same product. And now Walgreens makes it a trifecta, as they too […]

  2. J.D. WINTER says:

    OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE NOT AN ADVOCATE OF “AIRBORNE” OR “GERM DEFENSE”… BUT I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THIS COMMENT; ~ MY WIFE AND I HAVE BEEN USING GERM DEFENSE AND/OR AIRBORNE FOR OVER 3 YEARS NOW… WITH ABSOLUTELY NO ILL EFFECT ON EITHER OF US. IN FACT.. WE HAVE SWORN BY IT TO AFFECTIVELY REDUCE FEELINGS OF THE BEGININGS OF A COLD OR COLD LIKE SYMPTOMS… AND WE BOTH FEEL THAT IT HAS BEEN HELPFUL TO US. IF THE AFFECTS OF “GERM DEFENSE”/AIRBORNE” TYPE PRODUCTS ARE MERELY A PLACEBO AFFECT IN OUR CASE… OR ANYONE ELSES FOR THAT MATTER… THE FACT STILL REMAINS… THAT IT WORKS FOR US. AT THE FIRST SIGN OF ANY TYPE OF COLD SYMPTOM.. LIKE A SCRATCY THROAT OR COUGH.. ACHES.. ANYTHING LIKE THAT… WE TAKE A “GERM DEFENSE” AND 95% OF THE TIME… THE SYMPTOMS ARE GONE WITHIN 24 HOURS! ~ EXPLAIN THAT ONE! THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

    • mjr256 says:

      Why would you have an ill effect to vitamins? Neither product has a history of negative side effects. That’s not why the Federal Trade Commission is going after them. The FTC is going after them because they don’t do what they say they’re going to do, which is cure colds. Of course bogus cold remedies are easy products to sell because as the old saying goes, it takes a week to get over a cold but treat it, and it’ll only take seven days. I never use such products and my colds only usually last 3 days. I also sometimes develop what seems like cold symptoms for a few hours that then never actually become a cold. What you and your wife are experiencing is either the cold going away naturally or the placebo effect and you’re attributing that to a product that has been medically proven to do nothing to help treat a cold. There’s no such thing as “enhancing the immune system” or whatever buzz words now used on the packaging. These are claims that are made because they’re vague enough to skirt the laws dealing with false advertising. That’s why nowhere on the packaging will it say that these products cure colds.

      My point is that it’s a fact that these products DON’T work for you (at least not as cold remedies, which is supposed to be the whole point) and that greedy corporations are taking advantage of the public for billions of dollars in profit with their snake oil.

      If you really want to treat a cold, I recommend hot liquids like chicken soup. It’s cheap and infinitely more beneficial for treating a cold than Airborne, et al.

      But I’ll tell you what. If you can prove that Airborne is a successful cold remedy (a claim that even its manufacturers no longer actually make because of a court order), then you should contact the James Randi Educational Foundation and enter their Million Dollar Challenge. All you have to do is prove the product works as a cold remedy & they’ll give you a million bucks. You’d probably also win a Nobel Prize, and they pay at least a million dollars too, so it’d be well worth your time. Good luck.

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