CHICAGO (CN) – Walgreens settled an FTC complaint for $6 million after the Federal Trade Commission accused the drugstore chain of making baseless claims that its “Wal-born” dietary supplements could protect people from “airborne viruses.” Walgreens made $32 million from the drug from December 2004 through June 2009.
The claim was deceptive and “unsubstantiated at the time the representations were made,” according to the federal complaint.
Walgreens pushed the drug through misleading packaging and ads, claiming that it boosts the immune system and if taken before entering “germ filled environments” can ward off or reduce the severity of cold and flu viruses.
The FTC says that it is making “a continuing crackdown on companies making unproven claims about cold and flu remedies.” Such companies include Airborne Health, which settled with the FTC for $30 million in 2008 over similar deceptive claims.
“The formulas used in Wal-born products purportedly replicate the formula originated by and used in Airborne products manufactured and sold by Airborne Health,” the FTC says.
Both Walgreens and Airborne faced repeated class actions complaints from customers over the drugs.
“The $5.97 million settlement with Walgreens includes $1.2 million that was used to pay consumers as the result of a separate class action suit,” the FTC said.