FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) – The makers of Tylenol PM deceive consumers by marketing the drug as a nighttime sleep aid, when they have “no competent and reliable support for these claims,” a class claims in Broward County Court.
Lead plaintiff Myrna Eisenberg of Florida says the misleading marketing campaign “begins with a deceptive name,” as Tylenol PM “implies that it will make you sleepy.”
The drug maker’s “exhaustive advertising campaign builds on this deception,” the lawsuit states.
But the class says McNeil Consumer Healthcare’s claim that the active properties in its over-the-counter painkiller, acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, help consumers get a “good night’s rest” are “completely false and deceptive.”
The lawsuit quotes Dr. Riker, a health care consultant and editor of OTC Product News, who allegedly stated that diphenhydramine is an antihistamine discovered just after World War II and “was never designed to be [a] sleep aid or analgesic.”
There is “no competent and reliable” evidence that the drug helps people sleep, the class claims, though Tylenol PM is advertised as “effective relief of pain and sleeplessness that isn’t habit-forming and won’t leave you groggy in the morning.”
Marketing the painkiller as a sleep aid without clinical proof violates Federal Trade Commission rules, the lawsuit states.
But the marketing scheme allegedly worked, as the millions of dollars McNeil spent advertising Tylenol PM catapulted it above Advil PM and Excedrin as America’s bestselling nighttime painkiller.
The class of Tylenol PM buyers demand restitution and disgorgement for violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and breach of express warranty.
“As a result of the deceptive and misleading messages conveyed through their campaign, defendants have been able to charge a significant price premium for Tylenol PM over other similar products,” the lawsuit states.
The class is represented by Stuart Davidson of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd in Boca Raton, Fla.