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Classes Sue Drug Giants Over Expiration Dates

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - Pfizer, Bayer, and Johnson & Johnson warn customers to throw away medicines by an expiration date, though the drug giants know the products are good long after the dates, three class actions claim in state court.

The class actions in St. Louis County Circuit Court were filed against Bayer Healthcare, which makes Bayer aspirin; Pfizer, which makes Advil; and Johnson & Johnson and McNeil-PPC, which make Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom solid medications.

The classes accuse the drug giants of using "unconscionable, unfair, deceptive, unethical and illegal" methods to get consumers to throw away their products when expiration date has passed, though the companies know "that if stored properly these medications can and do remain chemically stable, safe and effective long after those dates."

The classes claim that studies by Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University proved that these products are safe and effective long after the expiration date. But the defendants continue putting the expiration dates on their products.

"The purpose behind this scheme is to increase defendant's sales and profits because consumers have to purchase replacement medications for those they have thrown out," the complaint states.

The classes claim the defendants earn billions annually from the expiration date scheme.

The classes consist of all Missourians who have bought the defendants' products and disposed of them due to the expiration date and subsequently replaced them. They seek actual and punitive damages for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and civil conspiracy.

They are want the defendants ordered to disclose the meaning behind the expiration dates, to provide accurate information about when the products are no longer safe or effective, and to provide instructions on storing the products to their effective life.

All three classes are represented by Richard Cornfeld in St. Louis.

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